After his election to office in 2005, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa announced he would work to bring peace and economic prosperity to all communities of Sri Lanka with his Mahinda Chinthana development program. The program included his SeaPlane project, a plan to build a number of seaplane airports to encourage tourism to more secluded areas of Sri Lanka such as Negombo Lagoon.
In Sri Lanka, elephants are both a valued part of traditional culture and an increasing risk to the populace. A spike in population on the Sri Lankan island has led the government to open lands traditionally reserved for the elephants to settlement by people. Narrowing habitats mean that encounters between elephants and people are more and more common, posing a threat to both elephants and humans. Since 1990, the number of elephants residing in Sri Lanka has fallen from about 12,000 to approximately 4,000, the result of hunting and dwindling food sources.