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Reviews the literature to provide an overview of the historical significance of the elephant in Sri Lankan society, an association which dates back more than 4,000 years. The present status of this relationship assessed on the basis of the findings of a recent study undertaken on the total economic value of elephants in Sri Lanka. This paper, first briefly outlines the history, evolution, nature and their distribution of the Asian elephant while providing some insights on the status of the elephant (Elephas maxima maxima) in Sri Lanka. Next, it reviews the literature in order to assess the historical affiliation that the elephant has maintained with the Sri Lankan society, its culture, history, mythology and religion. The empirical evidence on the economic value of conservation of the remaining elephant population in Sri Lanka is reviewed and the Sri Lankan people’s attitudes towards conserving this species of wildlife. Literature reviewed and analysis undertaken indicates that the elephant in Sri Lanka, still, as in the past has a special place in Sri Lankan society, particularly, in its culture, religion and value system. Thus, there is a strong case for ensuring the survival of wild elephant population in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, it also suggests that the community as a whole will experience a net benefit from ensuring the survival of wild elephants in Sri Lanka.


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