Sri Lanka is preparing for its first-ever countrywide census of elephants.

Wildlife Department head Chandrawansa Pathiraja says getting the numbers of elephants roaming the island's forests will help conservation efforts.

He said Wednesday that the census will run over two days sta rting Aug. 13 by counting elephants who come to drink at water holes, reservoirs and tanks.

The only count available now dates back a century when an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 elephants roamed wild in Sri Lanka. But their numbers are believed to have shrunk due to habitat loss and poaching.

Wildlife officials estimate Sri Lanka's elephant population at between 5,000 to 6,000.

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