But the shutdown of wildlife parks during the pandemic saw an increase in poaching and illegal hunting of all wild animals, prompting the government to order a crackdown in July.
Environmental lawyer Jagath Gunawardena said law enforcement authorities were preoccupied with the coronavirus, which made poaching easier.
“Incidents of elephant-human clashes were few, but there was an increase in killing animals for their flesh,” he said.
While the lockdown officially ended on June 28, Sri Lanka’s borders remain closed to foreign tourists. And that has badly hit some residents who rely on the country’s elephants for their income.