Celebrating the World Oceans Day 2019!

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"We are destroying the most BEAUTIFUL and IMPORTANT ecosystem in the world! " The SLWCS


Celebrating the World Oceans Day 2019!

To commemorate 2019 World Oceans Day the Colombo City Centre in partnership with the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society and the Department of Wildlife Conservation of Sri Lanka is holding a two day event starting from June 8th in the Atrium of the Colombo City Centre at 137 Sir James Pieris Mawatha, Colombo 02.

There will be displays and presentations about the marine environment. Most interestingly there will be several Touch Tanks for kids to make personnel connections with unique marine organisms such as starfish, seahorses, pretty little shrimps, sand skates, sea lilies, sea anemones, clownfish of Finding Nemo __fame and many more. Several sea turtles from four species that had been rescued and rehabilitated will be there as well. What is exciting is that once the two day event is over these sea turtles will be released back to the sea to mark the 2019 World Oceans Day.

The World Oceans Day exhibition is from 10 am to 10 pm on June 8th and 9th. Please bring your children for an enjoyable, educational, and immersive experience, learning about our amazing marine environment.

MaRINE Project logo-2

The SLWCS MaRINE Project will be built on joint research, collaborative spirit, and innovative activities. The MaRINE Project will be a practical demonstration of integrating scientific research and conservation with the principles of ecotourism, green technology and sustainable development.

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Important for resident and migratory birds

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The rare Pink or Indian Ocean Humpback Dolphin. Pic by Ajantha Palliyawadana

02. Sea Turtles Entangled in Fishing Nets Riaz Cader

A Loggerhead sea turtle entangled in a drifting fishing net in the sea off Kalpitiya. Pic by Riaz Cader

Heading our MaRINE Project will be Ms. Ruvini Weerasinghe, a young scientist and graduate from the Zoology Department of the Jayawardenapura University currently reading for her M.Phil in Marine Biology. Her research includes marine biodiversity, coral reef ecology, marine chemical ecology, invasive species ecology and marine pollution. Eventually Ruvini will be joined by a team of research and field assistants, volunteers and support service staff.

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Young Marine Biologist, Ruvini who will head SLWCS MaRINE Project

Big, rumbling thanks to our Corporate Partners for their kind support and to everyone who has donated and supported our wildlife conservation efforts!

Photo Credits:

Ravi Corea/SLWCS
Riaz Cader (entangled loggerhead sea turtle)
Ajantha Palliyawadana (pink dolphins)

The Wasgamuwa Cattle Killer


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“The urgency and concern was that on April 18th a leopard had attacked unprovoked and in broad daylight two construction workers in the Kumana National Park. It killed one laborer and injured the other very seriously.”


Spotted Ghosts that come in the night…


Ravi Corea/SLWCS

May 6th – We had just sat down to have breakfast when the EleBus returned after dropping the village kids at their respective schools. The EleBus crew Asitha and Gamini looked excited as they came dashing towards the Mess Tent. Interrupting each other they managed to somehow impart that the children while waiting for the EleBus at 6 am had observed a leopard walking along the road. They had also heard that a calf had been taken from a cattle stockade belonging to a farmer in the nearby village.

Quickly clambering into Glorious the Land Rover we drove the 3 kilometers to the village that was located at the north end of the Tree Hut Elephant Corridor deep in the forest reserve and met with the farmer whose calf the leopard had taken. Gunewardena is a middle-aged farmer who has a small herd of native cattle. Apparently within the last one and a half months he had lost 5 calves to a leopard!

The present attack had happened two nights ago. Gathered inside the cattle stockade which was just a large open glade with tall teak trees giving shade we looked around to set up several remote cameras to capture the stock raider. Going by the frequency of its attacks it was bound to make another kill again very soon.


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The leopard had taken five calves from this location

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Talking to farmer Gunewardena

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Gunewardena showing where five of his calves were taken within a 6 weeks period by a leopard


The farmer Gunewardena was a compassionate man, considering he had lost five calves he did not seek to avenge his loss by killing the leopard. The usual response of other farmers would be to lace the carcass with poison or set trap guns to get rid of the killer. Appreciating Gunwardena’s compassion towards the leopard we committed to compensate his loss by giving him a calf. It was also an added incentive for him to continue to be compassionate if further attacks occurred. But bringing a calf turned out to be a much harder task than I had anticipated.

We scouted around the cattle stockade for potential camera stations and commenced to install several remote cameras. While we were installing the cameras Chandima said he was getting the smell of a rotting carcass, which we all began to notice.


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Selecting potential camera locations

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Setting up cameras

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Amidst warnings that the leopard could be guarding the kill and would not like anybody approaching it, Chandima traced the kill by its smell and the buzzing of flies. The leopard had dragged the calf across a nearby deep and narrow dry sandy stream bed a distance of 60 meters to high ground where it had partially consumed it. Only the stomach and intestines were eaten while the rest of the calf including its’ head, body and limbs were left intact. Apparently the leopard had not visited the carcass since it had killed it because the stomach cavity was infested with maggots and flies buzzed in their thousands, which had helped to find the carcass.

Quickly abandoning the idea of setting up cameras in and around the stockade we decided to set a remote camera next to the carcass. That evening we arrived around 6 pm and set up one remote camera on the only suitable tree available and directly in line with the carcass. The stench was unbearable but doing our best to ignore it we went about setting up the camera.


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searching for the kill

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At the kill

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The maggot infested carcass of the partially eaten calf,

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Cleaning around the carcass to set up a remote camera

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Sampath covering his nose while helping to install the camera

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Chandima setting the camera mode


May 7th – In the morning the EleBus crew was asked to collect the camera when they went to pick up the kids.

In the meantime I went to meet Mahathun, a farmer who had a large herd of cattle and goats. Over the years we had given him cows and goats to increase and improve his herds. Mahathun very graciously provided a young heifer to give Gunewardena.

Mahatun’s cattle range freely grazing over a vast area and are enclosed in a fenced stockade only at dusk. When the time came to separate the heifer from the rest of the herd, that’s when things started to go south. Having never been tethered in its life before—the moment it was lassoed the heifer ran amok. Deciding it would be less stressful for the heifer and our vehicle won’t get destroyed as well we decided to walk it with the rest of the herd part of the way and then continue on to Gunewardena’s stockade. Hopefully by then the heifer would be somewhat used to the rope around its neck. It turned out to be the worst decision we could’ve made.

Soon as we parted from the herd and started our walk to the village the heifer took off bucking and cavorting in various directions like a bull in a rodeo dragging Mahatun’s teenage son Sanju along with it. In whatever direction it gamboled we too pranced and ran along behind to keep up with it.

The heifer went in every direction: over hill and dale and everything in between other than where we wanted it go. It would rest for a split second which allowed Sanju to get it heading in the right direction and then it would go again dragging Sanju as if he were water skiing in the bush. It did this repeatedly and in this manner we would’ve covered more than 7 kilometers and come no where near Gunewardena’s village. To say we were exhausted by then would be an understatement and on top of that we were totally fed up with the heifer’s intractability. I would’ve gladly exchanged the heifer for an ass.

When we came to a stream the heifer had a long and refreshing drink while we looked on in envy. Not expecting this to turn into a such a long and tiring fiasco we had not even brought a water canteen with us.

After having drunk from the stream now with renewed vigor the heifer led us again on a merry dance and then just as suddenly decided it was not going anywhere! It laid down on the ground and to our consternation simply refused to move. Our frantic efforts were of no avail it would not move or budge an inch. Like in the song “My Grandfather’s Clock” it laid down never to get up again. I always thought mules, asses, and camels were stubborn but this heifer put them all to shame.

Finally as a last resort we called Sampath to bring the Land Rover.


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The cattle in the stockade

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Selecting a heifer

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Sanju attempting to lasso a heifer

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The entire herd heading out to graze. The Knuckles Mountain Range is in the far horizon.

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What should’ve have been a pleasant walk…

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The heifer went everywhere…

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…other than where we wanted it to go!

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It splashed into the stream

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…and had a long and refreshing drink.

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Probably has some mule ancestry in its bloodline!? It laid down never to get up again


This was supposed to be a pleasant walk through forests, glade and grasslands with a chance of seeing some wild elephants. The heifer with its mulish behavior had turned this entire effort into a total disaster.

Now with an inert heifer laying on the ground the obvious solution was to move it by vehicle. Once the decision was made we had no choice other than to tie its four feet so it would not injure itself or us when we put in the vehicle. So there we were with a hog tied heifer at our feet waiting for the Land Rover. Fortunately we were in a desolate location where there were no passersby. Otherwise they would’ve got the impression that was quite contrary to what we were truly attempting to do.

Once Sampath arrived in the Land Rover with the help of a pole we lifted the heifer physically and put her into it and brought her to farmer Gunewardena’s stockade. We were so very glad and relieved to be rid of the obstinate animal at last, that I felt like yelling out loud “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

The next farmer who loses stock to a leopard while we would be happy to provide a replacement will have to collect and bring it himself, unless they provide me with a horse.


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All loaded into Glorious

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What a relief! At Gunewardena’s stockade


The EleBus crew when they went to collect the camera had found the carcass had been dragged 3.5 meters from where it was and the leopard had eaten some of it. There were prints around the kill. Unfortunately the camera had not captured the leopard. The leopard had come from an angle that the camera could not detect and had dragged the kill away.

Disappointed but determined by this evidence that the leopard was visiting the kill we set the camera again. But the conditions were not great because we had to set the camera very close to the kill and we did not want to move or disturb the kill fearing it would put off the leopard. The stench had got even worse – biting down hard on the gag reflexes we went about setting the camera.


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The leopard had dragged the kill undetected and consumed most of it

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Leopards prints in the vicinity of the kill

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May 8th – With high anticipation the camera was checked and again it was very disappointing. There were several photos of the leopard but as we had feared due to the proximity of the camera to the kill the photos were “overlit” by the flash. The leopard had visited the kill at: 9.50 pm.

Now we were really determined since we had hard evidence of the leopard and there was still enough left of the carcass and a good chance it would visit it again. This time we set up two cameras next to what was left of the kill to make absolutely certain that we’ll get photos of the leopard. Now the unbearable stench was like a familiar friend or our olfactory nerve had just given up and gone into shut down mode.



The camera was too close.


The leopard carrying the carcass away


May 9th – As soon as the EleBus crew brought the cameras Chandima loaded the memory cards into the computer. We waited with bated breath for the images to load. There were several ghost shots and a few photos of a grey mongoose opportunistically nosing around in the vicinity of the kill little after 6 pm. And then several amazingly clear photos of the leopard. It was fantastic that our efforts had paid off and we now had some really great photos of the Wasgamuwa Cattle Killer. The leopard had visited the kill at 7.42 pm. It seems it was active around 7 pm taking into account that it needed to travel from wherever it was resting to the kill site. Obviously it was not camera shy.

It was a young female leopard and she seemed to be in really good physical condition. We were really curious why she had turned to killing calves. Poaching could be the one and only reason. Poaching in Wasgamuwa is epidemic. All our efforts to bring this matter to the attention of the authorities including providing photos of poachers have not resulted in any follow up action.



A grey mongoose looking for easy pickings.

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The leopard approaching what is left of the kill

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That evening we decided to set three cameras with one on video mode just in case the leopardess visited what was left of the kill again.

On the way from the Wasgamuwa National Park we dropped off the volunteers in the Field House and headed directly to set up the remote cameras. It was dark and the time was 7.15 pm. We knew from last night’s photos that the leopard became active and visited the kill around this time. Parking the Land Rover, we gathered the cameras and tools and walked quickly through the scrub following the dry stream bed to where the kill was.


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The leopard had moved the kill again 3.5 meters but this time to a location that offered ideal conditions to mount three cameras. There was really not much left of the kill – just its’ fore legs.

It was pitch dark and we worked quickly using our flashlights to set up the cameras knowing that the leopard will visit the kill anytime now. The urgency and concern was that on April 18th a leopard had attacked two construction workers in the Kumana National Park located in the very southeast corner of the island. The unprovoked attack had happened around 4 pm. The leopard had killed one laborer and injured the other very seriously.

And here we were messing around a leopard’s kill in the dark! The Kumana leopard had attacked the construction workers in broad daylight without provocation. Just imagine what this leopard would do to us if it found us at its kill in the dark when all the odds were in its favor?

Quickly setting up the cameras we left the area as fast as we could. With very audible sighs of relief we got into the Land Rover and left quickly. The time was 7.40 pm and it had become totally dark. We knew from last night’s photos that the leopard had visited the kill around 7.42 pm. We had managed to leave with just two minutes to spare.


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Asitha positioning what is left of the kill for the cameras

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Chandima setting the camera mode…

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…while some of us kept watch in case the leopard showed up

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Part of the camera trapping crew

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Getting out before the leopard shows up

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Safely back in Glorious


From our remote camera data we know that there are 8 leopards in a 3.5 square kilometer area in these forests. Indiscriminate poaching wipes out the prey base of apex predators, and the presence of poachers in the forests drives these shy predators to find refuge in forest patches adjacent to human habitations, since these are the areas where poachers are least active. As they get pressed into these marginal areas these predators are brought into close contact with village livestock. Then eventually the inevitable happens—they kill their first livestock and as they learn how easy it is they become habitual raiders.

The SLWCS has reached out to several of the known poachers in the area and have managed to convince them to either give up or work with or for the Society. Unfortunately due to the recent events that occurred on Easter Sunday many of these initiatives of the Society will come to an end as the SLWCS finds itself striving to survive in these times of uncertainty.


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The Wasgamuwa Cattle Killer


Big, rumbling thanks to our Corporate Partners for their kind support and to everyone who has donated and supported our wildlife conservation efforts!




elephantea for the SLWCS staff shirts

We would like to thank the following organizations and individuals for donating the remote cameras:

SPECIES Foundation, California, USA
Loi Nguyen, California, USA
Camille Hardman, Mighty Fine Entertainment, California, USA
Boly Media Communications (Shenzhen) Co. Ltd

The Quote: “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” adapted from Martin Luther King, Jr.

Photo Credits:

Sri Lanka Carnivore Project/SLWCS & S.P.E.C.I.E.S. Foundation
Chandima Fernando/SLWCS
Ravi Corea/SLWCS



April turned out to be a challenging month for us and we truly appreciate the support we got from our volunteers


“I was here whilst the attack in Sri Lanka happened and all the staff were really calm and supportive during such a difficult  time. I would recommend this project to anyone who is interested in conservation and definitely hope to come back in the future.” Antonia Loizou, United Kingdom

Natasha Geer
United KingdomI have spent an amazing three weeks with SLWCS and have learned so much about the human elephant conflict in Sri Lanka and about their conservation work to protect the wide variety of wildlife that is present here. Some of the activities during my time here have involved helping to maintain orange trees at local houses for Project Orange Elephant, developing a butterfly garden to encourage more butterfly species, checking  electric fences and elephant dung analysis as well as spending time observing elephants from the tree huts in the afternoons.All the staff are very welcoming and helpful with anything you need and their passion and knowledge for conservation is incredible, all along with smiles and lots of laughter.Despite the attacks that happened in Sri Lanka during my stay, I have always felt safe and welcome here thanks to the staff at the project and I would really recommend this project to anyone who is interested in conservation and seeing this beautiful country and its wildlife.
Kimberley Davies
United KingdomI’ve felt very much part of the project here and the plight to improve human-elephant conflict through various activities. I think my favourite was working at the farm following a crop raid. There you can see a direct link and benefit to the farmer, with us clearing around the orange trees to allow them to grow and flourish. Fab!I was here during the Sri Lanka terrorist attacks, having been stuck in Colombo on Easter Sunday. The guys have worked around the clock making us feel safe and organising everything. Having an armed police guard with us at all times is unnerving but also very reassuring. We even managed a smile from them at the National Park when surrounded by elephants.All in all my experience here has been a great one and I would love to come back again some day. Thank you to everyone here, all the staff, the chef, the driver, and of course our favourite Siriya!

Working on the Butterfly Sanctuary

Isabelle Daly
IrelandI am so sad to be leaving SLWCS early due to recent events, I had planned to stay a month and unfortunately have to leave after just a week but, what a week! From the outset you are totally immersed in the conservation work they do here, from dung analysis to field observations I have had such a fantastic time and genuinely feel like I contributed to the work here. Never did I feel this more than witnessing elephants in their natural habitats after a hard days work weeding orange groves, to see how your work impacts the community here is really special.The team here are so welcoming and have been with all of us every step of the way, helping us and guiding us through such a stressful time for everyone. I have not felt unsafe once while with the team, and even managed to have a genuine laugh through it all.The team here will make you feel like you’re apart of one big family, and rest assured Ill be seeing them again! (Hopefully for longer) Thank you for taking such good care of us.
Jayne Staines
United KingdomSo having spent 2.5 weeks in beautiful Sri Lanka I arrived for my week’s volunteering with the great elephant project or SLWCS as they are known locally. What an amazing time I have had, the staff are professional, caring and extremely knowledgeable – so far we have performed an array of tasks to help with the human elephant conflict in Sri Lanka – from weeding a local’s garden of the citrus trees that will stop bull elephants from raiding her food stores and crops, to dung analysis – which sounds awful – but is interesting to see the diet, age, gender and general health of the elephant analysed, pug – or cat – paw analysis in the hunt for the fishing and jungle cats of Sri Lanka not to mention the hundreds of exotic and beautiful birds, plants and animals that inhabit this jewel in the Asian crown…. And that is before we even start on the majestic beasts that inhabit this island the Asian elephant – Elephas maximus maximus – their familiar patterns of behaviour, their intense loyalty and love for their family groups and their level of intelligence and “fun” as they play in the water sources, chat to each other while foraging for food and the way they look at you with years of knowledge and compassion as they smell you with their amazing trunks and look at you with the wisdom and compassion that summarizes this amazing place.I can’t but heartily recommend Sri Lanka – the political difficulties that we have experienced in the time we are here, will hopefully not put future volunteers off visiting this beautiful island, welcoming people and amazing sanctuary and heaven for such a wide array of beautiful species.

Black-headed Ibis
Marin Krijthe
The NetherlandsI’ve spent a little over a week here and it’s been such a special experience, all thanks to the local SLWCS team. They took such good care of us and made sure we had the best time. Although it’s hard work, it’s also very rewarding and together with the team and other volunteers we enjoyed ourselves every single day. The elephant watching especially makes for an adventure to never forget. I would recommend this programme for sure!
Millicent Dow
United KingdomI have only spent one week here but the staff have been amazing! They are very friendly and made me feel right at home; it has been lovely getting to know everyone. It has been very interesting learning about human-elephant conflict and the solutions that have been produced; the bees and orange trees. Even though the work is hard its enjoyable and you feel that you have accomplished something as a team when you finish! The end of day elephant watching in the Tree Huts was a new experience for me and one I rate highly. This is an excellent programme with incredible people!
Jackson Ball
AustraliaI spent two weeks at the program and I have had a great time. All of the staff are helpful, friendly and make the work we do very fun. They are also happy to take time out of their day to explain any questions you have relating to animal conservation or elephant behaviour. There are quiet times during the day, when it is too hot to work – I would recommend bringing some books or other activities to do during these times. I really enjoyed the trip to the nearby national park – and from what I have heard from other travellers and my own experiences it is really one of the best in Sri Lanka, especially for Elephant spotting, and best of all it is not crowded with tourists.I would recommend this program, it is certainly eye opening to see the impact of human-elephant conflict in remote communities, and how they are being managed, as well as gaining an insight into rural Sri Lankan culture and belief systems.
Alexandre Faury
FranceI spent two weeks at the program, which have been well organized despite extreme temperatures . I discovered a new species off elephants that I didn’t know, it was a surprise to discover that only 5% of them have tusks. They are so numerous that we can understand the human elephant conflict, and the planting of orange trees around neighbors houses. All the staff are very welcoming and helpful with anything you need. The visit to the national park is also fantastic.
Kristin Zimmermann
GermanyI spent four weeks here at the program and it was really amazing. I learned so many new things like how to plant orange trees, how to monitor fences, how to read elephant prints and their poo and last but not leas everything about elephant behaviour. In the afternoon we visited tree houses and looked for elephants there, sometimes we even saw a huge group of elephants or little baby ones. We spent evenings watching movies about the human elephant conflict, we learned where to hide camera traps and I had an amazing evening with other volunteers just by playing cards or different games together.All in all I would definitely recommend this volunteer project because you gain a very good overview about the human elephant conflict and the behaviour of elephants. Furthermore, everybody here us really nice and you always get support from the staff.



Alison Toosdel 
BelgiumI m happy to participated to the programs for help conflict between human and elephant. Thanks a lot to accept me for this adventure.
Aggie Parish 
Arizona, USAI have spent two weeks at the elephant conservation project and it has been wonderful; an experience I will forever cherish. Working with the people of Sri Lanka was an eye-opening experience. They work so hard for what they have, and it has truly given me a greater appreciation for what I have in my home-country. I wish my husband and children could have shared in my experiences, to gain that same appreciation.The staff at the field house have been kind and generous, and always willing to help and answer questions. I am so grateful to the founder of this organization, to have provided not only the experience for me, but for all of the assistance they provide for the villagers and elephants alike.
Emily Falle
United KingdomI have volunteered with this amazing project over the last 3 weeks and I have loved every part of the experience. It has definitely been eye opening seeing the detrimental effects of the human elephant conflict and the impact it has on not only the elephants, but the lives of the locals through home and crop destruction. This has made volunteering here even more special than I could have imagined as you really feel you are helping both the elephants and the locals.I have loved the different range of morning activities although they are definitely hard work in the hot sun! The ones which stood out for me was helping rebuild a house that had been destroyed by elephants and had been like this for over a year! Seeing the joy on the couples face when their home was fixed was a great feeling. Also when interviewing farmers for surveys about the human elephant conflict what I noticed was that everyone of them were so grateful for the work the SLWCS does in the local community showing me that this project really is making a difference.The Field House is great and in such a beautiful location, the staff are so friendly and fun and quick to share with you their wide breadth of knowledge on the surrounding wildlife and conservation and the food is delicious also! I would definitely recommend this experience to anyone.
Katarina Adamovic
GermanyThe whole crew around the SLWCS field house is super friendly and supportive. Learning about the animals and doing different activities every day made my stay here really memorable.Everything has exceeded my expectations by far, regardless if it’s just sitting in tree huts and enjoying the view or working my ass off to make progress in the butterfly garden.Its great to see that this project is working and helping with the human/elephant conflict and that the work of every volunteer helps to support ongoing research into behaviour of the elephants.

I will definitely come back one day to see how far this wonderful organization has come.

Mario Zehetner
AustriaTo saving Elephants by helping people is a great idea! I learned different things about the human animal conflict and counter measurements. I really like to support projects like this by doing some meaningful work. On the other hand there is enough time for relaxing and enjoying the awesome environment as well.The field house is a wonderful place it is simple but it has everything that is needed, including fans. The food is amazing and most of it is vegetarian and vegan. The crew here is very kind so it is very easy to feel welcome here.


The Butterfly Project Update – Transformation: Surely as dawn will dissipate the night a caterpillar will become a butterfly

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“Metamorphosis has always been the greatest symbol of change. Imagine that you could be a caterpillar one moment and a butterfly the next." Louie Schwartzberg

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Peacock Royal (Tajuria cippus)

Butterfly Project Update

In January 18th 2019 we commenced work to convert a large area of the SLWCS field operations site into a butterfly sanctuary as part of our Butterfly Project (https://madmimi.com/s/4ad3cd & https://madmimi.com/s/8307dd). We received much help, support and guidance from Sri Lanka’s most eminent lepidopterist, Dr. George Michael Van der Poorten and his wife Nancy. The Butterfly Project is sponsored by Spa Ceylon the prestigious house of luxury Ayruvedic personal and body care products.

The initial work mostly consisted of removing the invasive Ipil Ipil (Leucaena leucocephala) and Manna or Guinea Grass (Panicum maximum) allowing the naturally occurring host plants to flourish and constructing a pond. Additional host plant species were planted in selected areas and footpaths were created to provide non-intrusive access to observe butterflies.

At the time the work commenced on the Butterfly Sanctuary a survey was done to identify the species of butterflies that were already there. Seventeen species belonging to four families were identified (https://madmimi.com/s/8307dd). In addition twenty four species of host plants were also identified (https://madmimi.com/s/662f3e).

Our volunteers have been a tremendous help and support to us in this effort. It is highly unlikely that if not for their valuable contributions at all levels that we could have achieved so much in so little time.

Below are several volunteers working on the Butterfly Sanctuary from April 22nd to the 26th.


Removing the pertinacious Manna or Guinea Grass


A footpath


It has been three months since we started work on the Butterfly Sanctuary. We are very excited to report that by April 2019 we have recorded in the Butterfly Sanctuary thirty four species of butterflies including one endemic belonging to four families.


Common Hedge Blue (Acytolepis puspa felderi)
Common Pierrot (Castalius rosimon rosimon)
Common Lineblue (Prosotas nora airdates)
Peacock Royal (Tajuria cippus)


Tawny Coster (Acraea terpsicore)
Plain tiger (Danaus chrysippus)
Common tiger (Danaus genuita)
Common Indian Crow (Euploea core)
Glassy Tiger (Ideopsis aglea)
Blue Glassy Tiger (Ideopsis similis)
Grey Pansy (Junonia atlites)
Chocolate Soldier (Junonia iphita iphita)
Bue Pansy (Junonia orithya)
Common Evening Brown (Melanitis leda)
Common Sailor (Neptis hylas)
White Four-ring (Ypthima ceylonica)


Tailed Jay (Graphium agamemnon)
Common Rose (Pachilpota aristolochiae)
Crimson Rose (Pachilpota hector)
Common Banded Peackock (Papilio crino)
Lime Butterfly (Papilio demoleus demoleus)
Blue Mormon (Papilio polymnestor)
Common Mormon (Papilio polytes romulus)
Common Birdwing (Trodies darsius) Endemic


Common Albatross (Appias albina swinhoei)
Lemon Emigrant (Catospilla pomona pomona)
Mottled Emigrant (Catospilla pyranthe pyranthe)
Common Gull (Cepora nerissa phryne)
Common Jezebel (Delias eucharis)
Small Grass Yellow (Eurema brigitta rubella)
Common Grass Yellow (Eurema hecabe hecabe)
One-spot Grass Yellow (Eurema ormistoni)
Psyche (Leptosia nina)
Dark Wanderer (Pareronia ceylanica)

Banded Peacock

Common Banded Peackock (Papilio crino)

Blue Mormon

Blue Mormon (Papilio polymnestor)

Common Pierrot

Common Pierrot (Castalius rosimon rosimon)

Common Sailor

Common Sailor (Neptis hylas)


Crimson Rose (Pachilpota hector)


Common Birdwing (Trodies darsius) Endemic

Grey Pansy

Grey Pansy (Junonia atlites)


Tailed Jay (Graphium agamemnon)

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White Four-ring (Ypthima ceylonica)

White Four-ring

White Four-ring (Ypthima ceylonica)

We would like to say a sincere thank you to Spa Ceylon for supporting the Butterfly Conservation Project, Dr. Michael and Nancy van der Poorten for their invaluable advice, knowledge and guidance and to our volunteers for their unrelenting and unstinting support to our wildlife research and conservation efforts.

Common Jezebel - Delias eucharis

Common Jezebel (Delias eucharis)

Dr. George Michael van der Poorten and Nancy van der Poorten have two recent publications on the butterflies of Sri Lanka which we highly recommend:

The Butterfly Fauna of Sri Lanka (2016)
Field Guide to the Butterflies of Sri Lanka (2018)

The books are available at all leading bookshops in Colombo and online at: http://lepodonbooks.com/

Please stay alert for further updates on the progress of our Sri Lanka Butterfly Conservation Project.

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Big, rumbling thanks to our Corporate Partners for their kind support and to everyone who has donated and supported our wildlife conservation efforts!

Photo Credits:

Chandima Fernando/SLWCS
Nisali Wijesinghe/SLWCS


Our hearts go out to those who lost their lives and loved ones on Easter Sunday

Two elephants create heart shape with their trunks while the sun sets in the background at an elephant camp in the former Thai kingdom of Ayutthaya

"There are those who resort to violence to achieve their purposes however meaningless they seem. But those who live by nonviolent means, knowing right and wrong are the true guardians of humanity and life on earth."

It is with hearts and minds heavy with deep sadness that we send our love, prayers, and wishes to those who lost their lives and to those who lost their loved ones, family and friends on Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019.


Photo Credit: Reuters

March Volunteers Share Their Experiences

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"I have never come so close to elephants and wildlife in my life. I would recommend this program to anyone and I greatly look forward to returning for a longer period of time to continue helping with wildlife conservation." Connor Yakaitis, USA

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Observing elephants in their natural habitat

Penny Webb
Cumbria, England

Sadly I am coming to the end of a super month volunteering with the team at SLWCS. Time has passed so quickly having thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The opportunities have been varied and relevant, helping to ease the pressure between the local farming community and the resident herds of wild elephant. The work of volunteers helps support on going research into behaviour and impact of the elephants whilst also actively assisting with maintaining existing solutions i.e. helping to maintain orange plantations and monitoring and maintaining the electric fences.

Keeping in touch with the wider farming community also provides essential information as to where, when, frequency and impact of ongoing elephant trespass. What the issues are currently and how they might be eased in the future. Other opportunities have included helping with bird surveys visible and audible indicators of the general health or the environment around the field station and the surrounding paddy fields. Assisting with the development of a butterfly garden has also been undertaken. Hard graft but rewarding, seeing the tangible progress of development.

I am going to miss waking to the sound of the magical tropical dawn chorus, bird watching from the deliciously cold showers. Enjoying the first brew of the day looking out over the lake and Peacock Hill. The great food created by Mahinda, sticky coconut rice, honey, spicy sauces and fresh melon, bananas and pineapple and that’s just breakfast. Getting to know the fellow volunteers from all over the world and hearing about their adventures and plans. The dedicated, well motivated, very knowledgeable staff have shared huge insight about the area, the local population and of course the wildlife. They have looked after us all and made us feel very welcome. I would thoroughly recommend spending time at the SLWCS.

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Mandy McCormack

I have spent 2 weeks with the project. It has been a wonderful experience and I have learnt so much from the staff. You all work so hard and are so dedicated to the cause. I came to the project with basic knowledge and now feel I understand their aims to help both elephants and humans.

I have learnt about the importance of studying the elephant dung. I have learnt the importance of the introduction of orange trees planted around the farmers land, which keeps most elephants off their land and farmers can continue to farm. It’s about humans and elephants living in harmony and the SLWCS is certainly doing this. Putting up electric fences has also been another successful deterrent.

Seeing the elephants at the National Park was fantastic….all living the way they should. I loved living in the staff house…and sharing experiences with people from all over the world. Its an experience I wont forget…..Thank you SLWCS

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Gisela Heidi

I came upon this project by happenstance…..i was not sure what it entailed or what I would be doing. From my first evening here, I knew I would love this project. Everyone loves elephants but we forget that we have encroached on their territory and as a result have created a conflict between humans and these great beasts. What SLWCS does is it teaches and enables farmers and others to live in harmony with the elephants.

As a volunteer, I saw first hand the measures taken….with interviews with the farmers, we can see the effectiveness of Project Orange; we participated in the dung analysis which told us which elephants have raided the paddy fields and which were eating the mana and Myla. This is an excellent project -I have learned so much. The staff are wonderful answering the many questions asked and are always willing to accommodate our requests.

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Nicole Yakaitis
Connecticut, USA

It was one of the most incredible weeks of my life! I thought that our week in Kandy was going to be hard to beat but this took the cake. The staff here was absolutely amazing and did everything they could to make us as comfortable as possible.

The projects, though some were hard work, left me with a sense of accomplishment and meaning. The safari left me at a loss for words. I thought it was going to be a set route and if we saw them then we lucked out, but this was over the top! We took whatever route the driver thought would give us the best view of the elephants. It was incredible! This week was one that I will never forget (especially the food!!).

Thank you to the staff for everything they do here!

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Project Orange Elephant

Nina Clara

I spent two weeks in this project. I am really happy to have participated at this amazing project. I learned so many things about the elephant, the villager and the conflict between them. Even if we did not see a lot of elephant, it was really nice because we knew that this project was really for the conservation of the wild elephant who is the most important for me. I would really like to see elephant only if I know that they have a good treatment and they can live their wild life. I also enjoyed all the activities that we did, they was really interesting and variate.

The staff house was also pretty good, the view was amazing and it was really nice to live with all those people from all around the world sharing all our travel experience. I will never forget this experience, thank you so much for everything!

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Stephanie Ruth

Volunteering with the elephant conversation project was not only an incredible learning experience and an amazing opportunity to make a difference in a community, but a very worthwhile chance to get off the beaten track of everyday city life. Spending your time here with like-minded travellers from all over the world was an extra bonus, playing cards into the late hours of the night and planning weekend sight-seeing trips.

If you are interested in elephants, travelling to their natural habitat and studying the impact they have on the people around them, and vice versa, is the most educationally rewarding way of doing so. This is a project that is well worth the long trip to Sri Lanka, and it is the only NGO of its kind that has a volunteer program.

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The road blocked…

Heather Davies
Cardiff, Wales

An incredible and thought provoking experience from start to finish. A wide range of activities giving volunteers the chance to immerse themselves in the local culture and environment. From talking to farmers about their experience with elephants, to painting in the local school, monitoring fences in the jungle and so much more – I have learnt so much in such a relatively short period of time.

This is not a programme dedicated to “lip service” – you really get the chance to contribute in a real way. And doing all this with a fantastic group of co-volunteers and SLWCS staff. Alongside the hard work, there has been lots of laughs and sharing of experiences. Not forgetting the afternoon in Wasgamuwa National Park and being fortunate enough to see elephants just a couple of meters away. Amazing! An unforgettable experience in beautiful Sri Lanka.

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Tonia Di Ponio
Dundee, Scotland

This week has opened my eyes and made me realise how different living situations are compared to my own background and how elephants may affect locals in this area. The research involved and different jobs to be done each day has amazed me, its’ hard work however very rewarding as it does make a difference.

It was interesting to experience working along side great coordinators each day, they are very supportive and provided us with lots of information and guidance. Elephants are happiest wild and free I’m glad to have been part of this amazing programme. Sri Lanka has been amazing it’s a beautiful country!

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A Matriarch showing her displeasure

Kaitlyn Simmons
California, USA

These past couple weeks here have been such an incredible experience and I’ve learned so much from everyone at the society. I immediately felt right at home once I got here being in such a beautiful location with wonderful people and fascinating wildlife. With all the work I’ve done here, I’ve really been able to see how important this society is to the village and the progress you’ve been able to make.

It is really obvious how much the staff here cares about the work they are doing and the passion they have carries onto the volunteers as well. Although it’s been hard and busy work, I wouldn’t have changed a single thing about this experience.

I am very grateful this village has you guys so they aren’t fighting these problems alone, and that you allow volunteers like myself to join along and learn about these conflicts. It’s been an unforgettable experience for me, and I hope to come back again in the future. Thank you so much!

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Ruby Lekhi

My time here at the SLWC has been an experience I will never forget. From the staff to the fellow volunteers, the elephants to the food, I could not complain about a single factor. The extent of how much I have learnt is far beyond my expectation, I have found a real passion for conservation, partly thanks to the staff’s contagious and extraordinary efforts and also thanks to simply being in such a beautiful environment surrounded by the beautiful species that is the Asian elephant.

The work here is second to none, you will do hard work, but you immediately will see the benefits and reap the satisfaction in doing something worthwhile. The staff truly care about their work, a care that filters down into the volunteers. By the same token there is a great deal of fun and playfulness at the SLWCS, which too, filters into the volunteers, making my time here feel ultimately both important and thoroughly enjoyable.

My positive account of my time need not be taken with any pinch of salt, though unbelievable I truly have had one of the best experiences of my life here, setting me in good stead to do anything life throws at me.

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Roxane van Vyve

I have been volunteering here for two weeks and I had a really good time. I have learned a lot about the elephants and especially I have found it really interesting to come to understand the conflict between humans and elephants. All the coordinators are very nice and explain everything well, they are really present and take care of us. I have enjoyed the food, the landscapes, the people making this a wonderful experience. I like the fact that we are not doing the same things every day.

We have lots of free time for relaxing in the house and I suppose that everyone has enjoyed the break after the usual hard work in the morning. The tree houses are great and pretty, there you can have a calm moment waiting for elephants. So, I have loved everything and I am really happy that this kind of project exist. Finally, my favourite activity was obviously the safari, it was amazing to see those superb creatures in natural environment. I wish you the best for the future.

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Julia Zeisig

I volunteered here for 2 weeks full of nature and sports. There were different days and jobs, some were hard work in the sun, I never have sweated so much before in my life, it was a nice workout and it gives a good feeling to help. Between the activities we had some time for a nap, reading and chilling or something like that. The accommodation was interesting for me, for example, while having shower you can see the forest, hear the birds and in the evening you can see the moon.

The house isn’t completely closed, so at night it’s fresh and comfortable to sleep. I love the nature and the beautiful animals in Sri Lanka. The fireflies at night in the trees are romantic, some birds make funny noises, the cute geckos all around the house are not to forget, and to have luck and see the amazing wild elephants. All together I am happy with my experience. PEACE, LOVE & HARMONY 🙂

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Isabelle Cardoen

Volunteering in the jungle, getting over my fear of spiders and bugs. It has been an adventure where we learned about elephants, the culture and about ourselves. The different activities trying to help with the human elephant conflict have been equality interesting as fun. It has been a time to reflect and connect with nature. Standing still in a busy world can be hard but here it came naturally. Seeing the wild elephants has changed my view and I want to keep helping them to stay wild.

My favourite part of this organization is that they really see what the people and elephants need the most. And jump to help whenever and wherever it is needed the most. Coming from a world with high standards but low morals, I rather prefer living in the jungle and be happy.

My favourite part of this trip has been one day 21/03, a house was broken down, a crop raider had broken it down to steal the rice. We had to rebuild it, it had been a long time since I felt I had a purpose and doing something that matters. After we went on the safari and we where so blessed. We saw so many elephants, interacting, playing, eating, they got us surrounded, it was one of the best moments/feeling in my life. Also the small things really matter here, a sunrise/sunset, a red moon, the cats playing around, kicking a spider out of your bed (getting over fears).

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Kristy Ingebo and Jim Biancone

My husband Jim and I have had the most amazing experiences here at SLWCS…. We will never forget being surrounded by elephants in our jeep and helping these wonderful animals to live their lives by helping the villagers to cope with elephants trying to eat their rice crops.

We did so many rewarding activities such as clearing jungle to grow orange trees to keep the villagers houses safe and repairing homes damaged by the elephants in search of food. We also got to track jungle and fishing cats footprints and analyze areas where elephants live to see what they are eating. The people who run this organization are amazing and so is the staff, they are all so friendly and helpful. We learned a lot and got to be with other great people volunteering here. Definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity.

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Up close and personal

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Julia Thomas

This is a genuinely worthwhile project where volunteers can muck-in and get their hands dirty, working on various tasks aimed at helping reduce the conflict between humans and elephants. It is located in a beautiful natural setting on the edge of Wasgamuwa National Park – wildlife is all around – the area is especially rich in birdlife with Hornbills, Kingfishers, Bee-eaters and Sunbirds just a few of many species easily spotted around the Field House.

Volunteers ranging from 18-80 years old and from all around the world quickly bond while working on a common goal – helping people and thereby helping the elephants. The food is healthy, delicious and caters for vegetarians and vegans. The staff are friendly, helpful and very knowledgeable and passionate about wildlife conservation, as well as being very informed about local tourist destinations and public transport.

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Blue-tailed bee-eater


Malabar Pied Hornbill

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White-throated Kingfisher

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Manuela Garcia

My experience here has exceeded my expectations to 1000%. The staff is so caring and are always trying to be as helpful as possible, in the end they become like your family. The different morning activities and projects are a lot of manual labor but they are very gratifying to do, they make you feel important and part of something bigger.

The activities are well planned and safe. The rest of the activities are also very interesting, I loved bird watching, going up peacock hill to see the sunrise, visiting the Buddhist temple during full moon, helping with rebuilding a house, teaching in the school, the documentaries, the talks you give and last but not least elephant watching. I absolutely love that you have so many different things to do around and that you teach the volunteers as much as you can during our brief time here.

Thank you for always having such an amazing attitude and for always answering all my questions (even if they were travel related :P).The field house is amazing, you feel as if you were part of nature, its nothing fancy but that is not why I came here for. The bedrooms are basic but just what anyone needs, the house in general is kept very clean. The food is delicious. I would love it if after the meals (lunch or dinner) you could offer a small sweet. I love the cold showers, they are perfect for the weather. I also love that we can drink as much water as we want. I also really like the cats around the house, and that they are vaccinated and taken care of.

I want to congratulate you all for the amazing job you are doing and the beautiful projects that you are carrying out in this place and I am deeply grateful to have had the opportunity to come here for a month to learn from you guys. I am sure that this place will always stay in my heart and I hope that I have a place in yours as well!

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Jade Hume

This experience has been more and better than I could have ever expected. I’m so glad to have been able to spend a month here and feel I have learnt a lot about elephants, the conflict and how this impacts everyone; as well as learning about Sri Lanka in general.

I like the variety of morning activities which are often hard work but also leave you feeling like you’ve accomplished something every day from weeding to house repairs to teaching in the local school and can be very interesting – especially the surveys with the villagers. Throughout the rest of the day you’re kept occupied with going to look for elephants, documentaries and being shown the maps/camera traps.

The visit to the national park is also fantastic! The field house is basic but its’ always kept tidy, the cold showers are great after hard work out in the sun. The food provided is delicious and caters to vegetarians; there is always water available which is lovely. The staff are all so welcoming and are like one big family; if you go away for the weekend then it quickly feels like coming home.

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Dominic Le Page

The elephant volunteering experience is one of the best experiences I have had whilst I have been travelling. It is fantastic to see what a great job the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society are doing and it’s even better being a part of that work. It definitely feels like I have made a difference, and that I am doing this for a good cause.

The field house is fantastic, it is simple but it has everything that is needed and is very clean and tidy. The food is amazing, usually vegetarian and the chef can cater to other dietary requirements too. You will definitely get enough food here, that’s for certain! The staff is again amazing and the Field House really does feel like home – all the staff are very welcoming and kind. You will never be bored, there are always things to do and in free time you can relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings of the field house.

We recently helped to rebuild a farmers’ house that had been damaged by an elephant, which was very good to be involved in. I will 100% be back and would recommend this experience to anyone.

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Maya Rajah

This experience has surpassed my expectations on so many levels. Within the short span of one week, I have acquired a deep and comprehensive understanding of the challenges faced by both the elephants and humans that occupy this beautiful region of the world.

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Jamie Trudeau

I had a wonderful experience here. I loved learning about the elephants of Sri Lanka and participating in gathering research to help in the ongoing conservation efforts. It would be great to have more learning opportunities and/or educational lectures, however I understand that the heat of the day limits activities. Thank you for your hospitality and caring for these beautiful creatures!

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Lisa Breitenbach

Thank you for the amazing experiences that I could make in this project! I really enjoyed the time in this project and find it amazing, that this project is helping the people around here in so many different ways: building a class room, planting and caring for orange trees as bio fences against elephants, bringing the idea of sustainability closer to the kids with the butterfly garden as a home for the regional butterfly species, observing the behavior of the elephants with a daily watching from tree huts, evaluating camera trap pictures or analysing dung, providing a school bus, building up houses that got broken by elephants, monitoring the electric fence and giving the people around here a voice for their problems with elephants.

For me it all started with carrying trees in the butterfly garden, which was something like my hidden favourite activity. Not only because of the activity itself, but also because of the good mood the staff of the project spread. That mood led us through the whole project and was the most important reason, why we all enjoyed our time here and shared this mood ourselves. I think you do great work, not only with helping the local people but also with giving the volunteers valuable experiences that are so different from their lives back home and teach them something about sustainability, serenity and the value of (hard) work which is actually helping people and animals.

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Connor Yakaitis

This was by far the best trip I have ever been on. Sri Lanka is absolutely beautiful and the people are the friendliest I have ever met while traveling. The best part about my stay has been the week I spent here at the elephant conservation center. The staff was beyond friendly, welcoming and knowledgeable about every aspect of the region when it comes to elephant conservation.

They took every opportunity to provide us with hands on learning experiences and I have never come so close to elephants and wildlife in my life. I would recommend this program to anyone and I greatly look forward to returning for a longer period of time to continue helping with wildlife conservation. Thank you so much!

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An annoyed matriarch

Big, rumbling thanks to our Corporate Partners for their kind support and to everyone who has donated and supported our wildlife conservation efforts!

Photo Credits:

Chathuranga Dharmarathne/SLWCS
Chandima Fernando/SLWCS
Nisali Wijesinghe/SLWCS
Ravi Corea/SLWCS


Ron at Barber 2019

The Butterfly Conservation Project: Butterfly Sanctuary Update

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“There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly." R. Buckminster Fuller

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The Section Cerulean of the Butterfly Sanctuary

Akila Weerakoon
Research Scientist/SLWCS

The work on the Butterfly Sanctuary is progressing well. Seventy five percent of the invasive Ipil Ipil (Leucaena leucocephala) has been removed and the balance 25 percent will be removed by the end of April.

A pond has been dug and it’s now in the process of having the banks shaped and filled with natural mud to make it waterproof.

The first batch of host plants has been planted. The selection, procurement and planting of the second batch of host plants are in the planning stages.

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Volunteers assisting to remove the invasive Ipil Ipil

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Siriya taking a break from removing Ipil Ipil

Fifty percent of the footpaths had also being completed. This is taking a bit longer since we are making sure these paths do not intrude into butterfly habitats. The footpaths are laid in a manner to provide the least intrusive access to observe butterflies without disturbing them. An irrigation system to keep the sanctuary irrigated during the dry season is being installed and will be also completed by the end of April.

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A footpath

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Pipeline to install the irrigation system

Documenting of species both plants and butterflies is ongoing. We are very excited to record another additional butterfly species, the Dark Wanderer (Pareronia ceylanica ceylanica) belonging to the family Pieridae now present in the Butterfly Sanctuary. This brings our current list of recorded butterflies to 18 species since we started work on the Butterfly Sanctuary.

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Dark Wanderer (Pareronia ceylanica ceylanica) – Male

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Dark Wanderer (Pareronia ceylanica ceylanica) – Female

We have identified twenty four species of host plants but this not a complete list by any means. The identifying of existing host plants as well planting new host plant species is ongoing. This is a current list of host plants that are in the sanctuary that have been identified.

• Chick Weed (Ageratum conyzoides)
• RonSiam Weed (Chromolaena odorata)
• Yellow Bauhinia (Commelina benghalensis)
• Benghal Dayflower (Commelina benghalensis)
• Touch-me-not (Mimosa pudica)
• Nees (Dipteracanthus prostrates)
• Wild-Sage (Lantana camara)
• Wild Hibiscus (Hibiscus furcatus)
• American Mint (Hyptis suaveolens)
• Wild Indigo (Tephrosia purpurea)
• Common Wireweed (Sida acuta)
• Smooth Rattle Box (Crotalaria pallid)
• Indian Marshweed (Hewittia sublobata)
• Jackal Jujube (Ziziphus oenoplia)
• Coat Buttons (Tridax procumbens)
• Mexican clover (Richardia brasiliensis)
• Musk Basil (Basilicum polystachyon)
• Charcoal Tree (Trema orientalis)
• Indian Snow Berry (Flueggea leucopyrus)
• Nodeweed (Synedrella nodiflora)
• Tiny Flower Hibiscus (Hibiscus micranthus)
• Coinwort Indigo (Indigofera nummulariifolia)
• Ceylon Caper (Capparis zeylanica)
• Dwarf Morning Glory (Evolvulus alsinoides)

Chick Weed Ageratum conyzoides

Chick Weed (Ageratum conyzoides)

Siam Weed Chromolaena odorata

Siam Weed (Chromolaena odorata)

Yellow Bauhinia Commelina benghalensis

Yellow Bauhinia (Commelina benghalensis)

Benghal Dayflower Commelina benghalensis

Benghal Dayflower (Commelina benghalensis)

Touch-me-not Mimosa pudica

Touch-me-not (Mimosa pudica)

Nees Dipteracanthus prostrates

Nees (Dipteracanthus prostrates)

Wild-Sage Lantana camara

Wild-Sage (Lantana camara)

Wild Hibiscus Hibiscus furcatus

Wild Hibiscus (Hibiscus furcatus)

American Mint Hyptis suaveolens

American Mint (Hyptis suaveolens)

Wild Indigo Tephrosia purpurea

Wild Indigo (Tephrosia purpurea)

Common Wireweed Sida acuta

Common Wireweed (Sida acuta)

Smooth Rattle Box Crotalaria pallid

Smooth Rattle Box (Crotalaria pallid)

Indian Marshweed Hewittia sublobata

Indian Marshweed (Hewittia sublobata)

Jackal Jujube Ziziphus oenoplia

Jackal Jujube (Ziziphus oenoplia)

Coat Buttons Tridax procumbens

Coat Buttons (Tridax procumbens)

Mexican clover Richardia brasiliensis

Mexican clover (Richardia brasiliensis)

Musk Basil Basilicum polystachyon

Musk Basil (Basilicum polystachyon)

Charcoal Tree Trema orientalis

Charcoal Tree (Trema orientalis)

Indian Snow Berry Flueggea leucopyrus

Indian Snow Berry (Flueggea leucopyrus)

Nodeweed Synedrella nodiflora

Nodeweed (Synedrella nodiflora)

Tiny Flower Hibiscus Hibiscus micranthus

Tiny Flower Hibiscus (Hibiscus micranthus)

Coinwort Indigo Indigofera nummulariifolia

Coinwort Indigo (Indigofera nummulariifolia)

Ceylon Caper Capparis zeylanica

Ceylon Caper (Capparis zeylanica)

Dwarf Morning Glory Evolvulus alsinoides

Dwarf Morning Glory (Evolvulus alsinoides)

We would like to say a sincere thank you to Spa Ceylon for supporting the Butterfly Conservation Project, Dr. Michael and Nancy van der Poorten for their invaluable advice, knowledge and guidance and to our volunteers for their support to our wildlife research and conservation efforts.


Dr. George Michael van der Poorten and Nancy van der Poorten have two recent publications on the butterflies of Sri Lanka which we highly recommend:

The Butterfly Fauna of Sri Lanka (2016)
Field Guide to the Butterflies of Sri Lanka (2018)

The books are available at all leading bookshops in Colombo and online at: http://lepodonbooks.com/

Please stay alert for further updates on the progress of our Sri Lanka Butterfly Conservation Project.

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Big, rumbling thanks to our Corporate Partners for their kind support and to everyone who has donated and supported our wildlife conservation efforts!

Photo Credits:

Akila Weerakoon/SLWCS
Ravi Corea/SLWCS

February Volunteers Share Their Experiences

05. SLWCS Elephant Corridor Tree Hut

"It’s great feeling being part of an organization that is making a difference. Would recommend this to anyone! So wonderful and hope to come back one day." Spencer Elizabeth, Canada

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Observing elephants in their natural habitat

Maria Jennings

I spent 2 weeks with SLWCS. I met some lovely people and had lots of fun. I enjoyed the dorms, and although there are walls, they aren’t joined to the roof, so it’s rather lovely having that gap and falling asleep and waking to the sounds of nature. The cold showers are a blessing at the end of a session of tree planting or vegetation slashing and clearing.

The Field House domestic staff can’t do enough for you, and the guides and drivers are local and therefore extremely knowledgeable about their environment and the area covered by the SLWCS. The conservation staff often defer to their knowledge and they all work extremely well as a team. I learned a great deal about wild Asian elephants, and how human/elephant conflict has untold financial, environmental and sometimes tragic consequences. SLWCS is trying to find ways to solve this problem, sometimes with innovative ideas, for example planting orange groves, as elephants hate citrus fruit and will hopefully avoid such vicinities. They are all passionate about their work, and I hope they are able to continue this necessary work for the foreseeable future.

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Setting a sand trap

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Electric fence monitoring

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Katharina and Theresa Pesl

We just spent one week in the Fieldhouse but it was enough to make incredible new friends, to meet locals, to help the people around, to plant trees, to play a lot of cards, to eat really good food, to see elephants, learn something about them, and to had an amazing experience. It was enough but we could have stayed one more week…or two. We are really sad to leave, everybody was so nice to us, smiling all the time and they let us be part of their life. After one week, we can say that we will really miss that place and the people. Keep up with the project, we will definitely recommend it to everybody and looking forward to come again. Lot of hugs.

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Matthew Jack (Jacks)

I spent two weeks at SLWCS. I wanted a totally different experience to what I’m used to living in the French Alps. I also wanted to help toward elephant conservation. It certainly was so different to what I’m used to and has been a wicked experience. The accommodation was great and curry everyday was awesome to someone who loves curry. I loved the elephants. And would have loved to have seen them much more but understand you won’t see them everyday as I thought you might before coming.

Everyone has been helpful and really nice bunch of people. I would have liked to have been able to go for walks etc whilst at the centre and felt a little restricted in that respect but totally understand the reasons for this i.e; gun traps etc and maybe danger from wildlife etc. I am leaving a week early and this is only due to the fact that if I don’t get the chance to come to sri lanka again then I wanted to see more of the country before I leave. That’s all. I would defiantly come again and will rave about it to my friends and encourage them to come also. Cheers

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Alan Gemmell

I spent 2 weeks with SLWCS in there Field-house. Where I met many awesome people from all over who were a great laugh and a pleasure to work alongside. The staff were incredibly friendly and helpful with any issue you had. The conservation work is fun and rewarding but tiring in the heat, the field staff are very knowledgeable about their projects and wildlife. Seeing the wild elephants was definitely the highlight of my time here. I would definitely recommend this program to anyone.

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Drinking a tender coconut freshly plucked from a tree

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Ella Hurst and Rose Oakley

We’ve spent almost three weeks here and have really enjoyed it! The organization is so important; the locals really appreciate the work done by SLWCS. The staff who run the program are all so lovely, many of them grew up in the village we’ve been working in so know everything there is to know. The tasks have been engaging and diverse, from making a butterfly garden to carrying out dung analysis.

The afternoons have been spent up at the tree huts overlooking the elephant corridor which is very relaxing, you don’t always see elephants but makes seeing them even more special. The field house has incredible views, it’s so peaceful and has a very welcoming feel and the food here is really good too – it’s traditional and all freshly made. We’ve made some amazing friends and had an incredible time, we’re sad to be leaving and very grateful to all the staff who made our trip so great.

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01. SLWCS Elephant Corridor Tree Hut
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Sandra Robertson

The SLWCS is an effective, worthwhile conservation organization to support! My reason for coming was to contribute to wildlife conservation instead of a typical vacation. Also to see first hand what they are doing to conserve incredible animals like elephants, wild cats, and butterflies. The dormitory like accommodation was fun, and rustic. Meeting a variety of people from all over the world adds to the experience.

The staff are extremely knowledgeable, friendly and great to work with. Overall the experience was worthwhile, and I felt the work was meaningful. However, I was hoping for more wildlife experiences such as night drives for the wild cats we did track surveys for, bird watching, and other searches for the variety of animals that can be found here. I was fortunate to see numerous elephants and I will never forget the experience!

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Viktoria Hartig and Violetta Melnitschuk

We spent two weeks with SLWCS. We enjoyed our stay and had a really great time in the field house. We met great people and had lots of fun. The work was interesting, informative and sometimes exhausting but we learned a lot about the elephants, environment of this area and the culture. The people are very friendly and the staff is attentive and helpful. The accommodation facilities are simple but we get used to it after short time. Summarizing it was a great experience and we won’t like to miss this wonderful time.

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Emanuelle Rome-Jarry and Lucile Magnani

We spent two weeks and two days with SLWCS. It was our first experience in volunteer mission and we really enjoyed it! We learnt many things about the Sri Lankan culture, elephants and others animals. We met beautiful people and amazing staff. The food was very good but sometimes too spicy for us ! 😉
We really loved discovering the life of the people here and when we saw the elephants for the first time, it was a moment that we never forget!

Thanks to everyone who make this experience beautiful!

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Annie Lejeune

An amazing project with amazing people. I spent almost two weeks here and I have seen and done so many things. Joining this project allows me to have a better understanding of the reality, the culture and the issues of the local people and the work of the organisation. This organisation really wants that the volunteers understand each part of the work so they inform us, they come with us, they respond to every question. The work is different every morning so we learn more every day. The afternoon is free so it is the time to know better the other volunteers or the staff.

Going in the tree huts in the afternoon is nice too but you never know what is going to happened. The project concern elephant but it is possible to never see one from the tree huts. It can be disappointing but it also shows that the organisation respects the wildlife of these animals. So, these two weeks were an incredible experience full of discovering with people who care about you and about what they do.

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03. SLWCS Elephant Corridor Tree Hut
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Wendy McQuillan

A wonderful experience hosted by wonderful people. Very impressed with the efforts made to reduce the elephant/human conflict. Meeting people from all over the world and working with the people of Sri Lanka were great gifts. Thanks for everything.

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Marc Georg (Mace Drake)

Wow, a whole week past by so quickly. I had the luck to spend some unforgettable days here, with people who made my experience much better. I really enjoyed the times at the tree house hut where we watched out for elephants, or the morning ride in the Bus to bring the local kids to school were a great experience.

Thanks to the staff who always supported us, explained everything that we not just heard it, they really want that we understand what they are telling us. I am thankful for the time I spend with that Organisation and could be a helping hand.

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Roger & Shirley Wales

Its great to see that this project is working and helping with the human/elephant conflict.

We have met some lovely people, volunteers and staff, and enjoyed working with them, even in the butterfly garden! Seeing elephants in their natural surroundings was an experience to be treasured and one we will never forget. A huge thank you to everyone involved and we wish you all the best for the future.

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Andy, Anja, Ronja and Malina Reidhauser

We have spent two great weeks here. We could attend many activities that would help the people in the surrounding villages to avoid conflicts with elephants. We especially liked to join the surveys where we could ask the people directly how they live with elephants that still may come every night to their houses. It is interesting that they all still love elephants, despite all the destruction.

We also enjoyed all the friendly people of the project team who made us feel like in a big family.

Sometimes we have seen elephants in the afternoon either on the tree hut or in the paddy fields. If not, we used the time for homework. Much more elephants we have seen in the Wasgamuwa National Park, it was so beautiful, so that we went there twice.

We wish all the best to this project and will be curiously following how the orange trees grow, how many butterflies come to their new home, if the fence will be improved, if the people will start to capture rain water from their roofs for dry season and how elephants and people live peacefully next to each other.

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Kami Koster

I spend a week here with SLWCS and really enjoyed the experience. The accommodation and food was great and we saw lots of elephants! I felt like the projects they are working on are worthwhile and its good to know the locals appreciate the help. I would definitely recommend this to a friend as it was a very unique opportunity. I will miss all the friends I met here!

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Adela Ozkan

I spent a week with the SLWCS team and I would have loved to stay longer. I had a wonderful time here and learned so much about elephants and other mammals and birds of Sri Lanka. The place feels like magic and I am sure to come back sooner or later.

The project also allowed me to get to experience the life of Sri Lanka’s farmers and see places that you wouldn’t find in any travel book about the country.

The food at the field house is very good. I enjoyed every bite of it.

I am really gonna miss this place and I am already planning to come back this year to enjoy more time in this peaceful and wild place.

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A cute family of Whistling Teal

Tina Stiby

What an amazing experience! Thank you so much for such a fantastic week! So well organized and varied ‘work’ with such a lovely group of people (volunteers and staff) with similar feelings about wildlife and the environmental impact.

I learnt so much more about the organization and what you do and how enthusiastic everyone was. My only regret is not staying here longer, sorry, but I really hope to come back and also tell others about it all. Well Done!

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Joshua and Belinda Kean

Thank you so much for an incredible experience. We have learnt lots about your projects and all the good work you are doing here. Also will come away with much knowledge of wildlife and of course the elephants. Its has been the best magical experience to see them in their natural habitat…loved the tree house time.

The staff and volunteers are all lovely…we will miss everyone.

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Spencer Elizabeth

I spent two amazing weeks with SLWCS and enjoyed my time here. The staff are so incredibly friendly and help make someone feel right at home. Their passion and knowledge on the relationship with humans and elephants is inspiring; it made this experience what it is. Seeing that really sparks interest from someone on the outside, who had no idea what to expect.

It’s great feeling being part of an organization that is making a difference. Would recommend this to anyone! So wonderful and hope to come back one day.. maybe when the orange trees have grown! Thank you all so much for everything!

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Big, rumbling thanks to our Corporate Partners for their kind support and to everyone who has donated and supported our wildlife conservation efforts!

Photo Credits:

Chathuranga Dharmarathne/SLWCS
Nisali Wijesinghe/SLWCS
Ravi Corea/SLWCS