Authorities in Sri Lanka on Wednesday banned the open dumping of garbage near wildlife sanctuaries to discourage elephants from foraging for rotting food scraps and risking their lives.
As an immediate measure, the cabinet ordered that electric fences be erected around more than 50 dumps near elephant habitats to keep the roaming beasts away.
"Around 300 wild elephants are hanging around them (dumps)," the government said in a statement.
"When elephants consume bacteria-infested waste... it shortens their lifespan."
The government said local authorities would be banned from dumping solid waste in the open, and would be required to establish recycling plants and use hygienic methods of waste disposal.
The government said an unspecified number of elephants had died after ingesting polythene in landfill sites, adding wild herds were increasingly relying on garbage dumps for food.
Elephants are venerated in Buddhism, the majority religion in Sri Lanka, and are protected by law.
The wild elephant population in Sri Lanka is estimated at about 7,500, with another 200 domestic beasts.