This paper proposes that Sri Lanka’s nature conservation efforts are hampered by the lack of a clear understanding of the meaning of the word conservation. This lack of understanding then impedes effective implementation of conservation actions. It revisits terminology, to obtain clarity of the definition of conservation. Inherent in many current definitions are included the following. 1) Humans are integral to conservation biology. Anthropogenic activities drive the loss of biodiversity, necessitating conservation, but humans must be a part of the solution; 2) Preservation, maintenance, enhancement, restoration and sustainable use are all elements of conservation. The difference between preservation and conservation is clarified. The paper assesses gaps in current conservation measures, as: 1) lack of practice of true conservation in Sri Lanka that includes all its elements; 2) lack of focus on landscape-scale conservation; 3) lack of focus outside protected areas; 4) lack of negotiation with decision-makers using a tender that is understood by them; 5) lack of congruence between conservation knowledge and conservation practice; 6) complacency with regard to Red Listing™; 7) inadequate prioritisation of conservation research; 8) inadequate predictive research; 9) lack of research on the impact of climate change on species and ecosystems; and 10) focus on a sectoral, rather than a holistic approach. The paper concludes by providing recommendations for future actions.