On this Mother’s Day honor your mother by giving to protect a mother in the wild

Mothers are our protectors and strength whether we live in the urban jungle or in the wild. Ravi Corea, President, SLWCS On this Mother’s Day as we h

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Mothers are our protectors and strength whether we live in the urban jungle or in the wild. Ravi Corea, President, SLWCS

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On this Mother’s Day as we honor, love and cherish our own mothers let us give thought to those mothers in the wild. They are struggling to protect their young while trying to survive amidst a gauntlet of threats, risks and dangers.

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A sambar hind and fawn

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Make a donation to the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society in loving honor of your mother.

Any donations that you can make, even if it's only a very small amount, will help us to continue tirelessly with our vision to save wildlife.

Please got to this link to make a donation: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/slwcs-covid19

A Happy Mother’s Day to all Mothers!

The Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society

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Click on the image to make a donation

ele drawing Donate Now

Click on the image to make an online donation

By clicking on the elephant image on the right a donation can be made to the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society. Alternatively at the following link: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/slwcs-covid19, or by mailing a check to the address listed on the very bottom.

Thank you for your support.

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Wish you a Very Happy Mother's Day!

Photo Credits

Chathuranga Dharmarathne/SLWCS
Chandima Fernando/SLWCS


Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society Update on the Coronavirus (CORVID-19)

Sri Lanka does not have any confirmed cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) The Sri Lankan Government is taking utmost precautions to prevent the spread of

Winning One Battle at a Time: Saving the Weheragala Forest Reserve in Wasgamuwa – a Public Private Partnership Effort

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“…so happy to hear that the Forest Department (including higher level officials from Colombo) stepped up to confront this encroachment, and, not at all surprised that SLWCS played such an effective role in working through this process.” Forest Service, U.S.A.

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The Weheragala Forest Reserve is a land bridge that connects the Knuckles Mountain Range in the south with the Wasgamuwa National Park in the north creating a contiguous landscape for wildlife over three climatic zones. The Forest Reserve is in one of the most geographically diverse and biodiversity rich regions of Sri Lanka. This dynamic landscape extends in a northeasterly direction all the way from the summit of the highest peaks of the Knuckles Mountain Range down to the coast in Trincomalee confluent with Sri Lanka’s longest river the mighty Mahaweli Ganga.

These forests are under severe anthropogenic pressure. Recently a large area was cleared by the government to settle people under the Moragahakanda and Kaluganga hydropower, irrigation and land settlement schemes under the Mahaweli Development Program. Over hundred elephants and thousands of other wild animals were displaced as a result. In addition poaching, illegal logging, squatters, gem mining, and cannabis plantations are relentless ongoing grievous and pernicious assaults on these forests.

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Weheragala Forest Reserve

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The Knuckles Mountain Range

For the past 23 years the SLWCS has been working hard to address some of these issues. But given the magnitude and scale of these concerns it has been a challenging and uphill effort. The lack of proper government policies to establish public private partnerships have been the biggest stumbling block and obstacle to addressing these issues effectively.

It was with grave concern in August 2019 we observed a herd of over one hundred domestic buffaloes in the Weheragala Forest Reserve. Initially we thought it must be a transient herd that will eventually move on. But months went by and the buffaloes remained it was tragic to observe the illegal cattle stockades that had been erected in the Forest Reserve.

The actual number of buffaloes we learned was one hundred and eighty. The frequent need to shift the stockades to a new location since the buffaloes fouled up the area meant large sections of the forest was been denuded of any undergrowth. The buffaloes were also destroying the undergrowth as they fed and moved through the forest.

The destruction of the undergrowth was destroying the habitats and displacing many species of wild animals. They were also a disturbance to elephants. We noticed that elephants were keeping away from the areas where the buffaloes were. This was not surprising since once the large herd of buffaloes had moved through an area they left it devoid of any forage for other herbivores to feed on.

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The buffaloes denuded the ground cover they fed and moved

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One hundred and eighty buffaloes spread through the Forest Reserve

In November 2019 the SLWCS officially wrote to the Forest Department, the Wildlife Conservation Department, the District Secretary of Matale and the Divisional Secretary of Wilgamuwa and the local police about this matter requesting them to take appropriate action to evict the buffaloes from the forest reserve. There are clear legal provisions in the Forest Ordinance to evict the cattle and prosecute the owners.

As a follow up the SLWCS convened a meeting in January 16, 2020 at our Field House and invited the regional Forest Department personnel and the local police. At the same time the Society reached out to the Conservator General and Forest Conservator of the Forest Department who gave their fullest support.

The following morning we were informed by the Forest Department personnel that they had filed a case against the owner, asked him to remove the buffaloes from the Forest Reserve and requested our help to remove the cattle stockades from the forest reserve.

We took our volunteers and provided manpower to remove the stockades. At the same time we understood that the buffaloes were providing a livelihood and we had to look at that aspect as well. We reached out to the owner and made him aware of the harm he was doing to the forest reserve as well as the fact that he was breaking the law by engaging in an illegal activity. To ensure that his livelihood was not impacted adversely by getting evicted from the forest reserve, we provided him with financial support to build a new cattle stockade in the village. Since then we have been frequently monitoring that section of the forest reserve as well as continue to engage with the cattle owner in our continuing efforts create win win solutions to benefit the people and wildlife in the Wasgamuwa Region.

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Forest Department officers giving notice to one of the owners to remove buffaloes and the stockades

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Forest Department, SLWCS and our volunteers all working together to save the forest

It was incredible how within a very short time this issue was resolved effectively just by the Forest Department and the SLWCS engaging in a collaborative spirit. This incident clearly highlights the potential of public private partnerships and how they can be very effective in addressing issues of national importance. Since the buffaloes were removed we are observing again large numbers of elephants sometime numbering over 50 elephants frequenting the Forest Reserve.

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The Forest Rescuers…

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Large numbers of elephants are again frequenting the forest reserve

For information about the SLWCS Volunteering Program please contact us at: info@slwcs.org

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

January volunteers share their experiences

"I volunteered with the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society, and during the time I was there I felt incredibly at home and supported by the wonder

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"I volunteered with the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society, and during the time I was there I felt incredibly at home and supported by the wonderful local team. The amount of brilliant work they are doing is truly awe inspiring and you really get to see and experience how it impacts the local community and wildlife, I couldn't recommend this highly enough to anyone looking to really connect with the community and with a passion for the natural world. Incredible experience." Elizabeth (Bessie) Hyman, U.K.

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Chathuranga Dharmarathne
Research Scientist
SLWCS

Monday, January 27th 2020

Morning

Team 1: Helena, Abhi, and Sanela

Morning was spent on pug mark surveying, we observed several jungle cat prints near the paddy fields of Eke Ela.

Afternoon

All volunteers went to do Elephant observations at Weheragala but no elephants.

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Rosemary Kimble
USA

My experience at SLWCS was wonderful. I learned a lot about the conservation efforts of the organization. I was surprised at how much good work being done by them. They have really put so much into helping the community and the elephants to live in harmony. I would love to see this program grow to include the entire country of Sri Lanka.

I enjoyed learning about how to identify certain native wildcats based on their paw prints with the pug mark research and to see how the eating habits of elephants is observed through dung analysis. It was always special to get to visit the home of one of the villagers or farmers, to see how they live and how they are trying to keep the elephants at bay to stay safe. They were always so kind, offering us tea and snacks after our work.

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I was especially impressed by the EleFriendly Bus project and riding on the bus with the children was one of my favorite things. They are all so sweet and happy.

It was very special to see the wild elephants foraging and I feel very blessed for every time I got to see them because it does not happen at every observation.

My only complaint are the times we did work in the mid morning to clear land because it was very hot and I thought we should have done it during the early morning.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to work with your organization and for all that I learned about elephant and wildlife conservation through you. Your work is super important and I am honored that I got to be a part of it.

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Tuesday, January 28th 2020

Morning

Team 1: Abhi, Helena, Sanela, Awana and Maria

Morning activity was a very productive POE session. We visited 5 farms with a lot of plants at Medakanda . We cleared weeds around more than 150 plants. Most were in great condition and healthy.

Afternoon

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We observed one very little elephant calf near Madupitiya area. It was a very unusual observation. We did not hear any sign of the adult elephants nearby. This calf suddenly appeared and then ran in to the forest.

According to Asi and Sarath recently an elephant calf had been caught by the DWC vets to remove a snare. It seems like the herd is not accepting the calf after it had been treated.

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Ge (Scott) Wendi
China

Overall, I am very satisfied with this volunteer project. I have spent a pleasant week here with all the other volunteers and local workers. People are all warm-hearted and always willing to help. Also, I have learned a lot in this week about elephants protection and some local culture. Food here is quite special for a Chinese. So much curry and pepper as well as plenty of black tea do add so much fun to living here.

The condition are very basic, but scenery views make all worth. Take a cup of black tea, hold a cat sleeping on my lap and sit on a chair right under a roof. When it is rainy, just listen to the sound of raindrops landing on the roof or leaves and gaze at the distant hill though the rain. When the rain stops, even the water in the lake is blue. When it is a sunny day, wind comes from the distant hill, crinkles the water in the lake, sweeps over kinds of grass and rest on the branch under the roof and on my shoulders next to my ears.

Volunteer work here very satisfying, and I am sure that what I did will actually help those elephants and I believe that the accumulation of these tiny stuff will make a big difference.

I really hope to spend more time here and I do recommend this wild elephants protection project to some of my friends who intend to do some volunteer work.

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Wednesday, January 29th 2020

Morning

Team 1: Abhi, Helena, Sanela, Awana and Maria.

We did a community project. We helped to make a new hut for the meditating monks in the Karu forest. We managed to complete the building with the help of villagers. Volunteers were very happy because they made new friends and worked together to achieve the target. Volunteers were really happy about that.

Afternoon

All volunteers We observed one elephant on the way from the morning activity. It was a huge male elephant chilling near the Weheragala forest area. We observed it for more than 15 minutes.

We observed 2 male elephants during the evening observation at the Weheragala Tank. They were playing in the water. Fishermen chased them away after a while. It was a nice evening of observing elephants.

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Adele Marchegay
France

I had the feeling to really help peoples and by the way helping elephants. The experience in the field house was unique. I never lived like that before and I even don’t knew that I could do it.

I learned about wildlife, Sri Lanka, and also myself, I met some volunteers who became my friends.

I am really thankful and I will remember all my life of this 3 weeks. The only thing I regret is to don’t speak Cinghalese and that the local village people who work with us most doesn’t speak English… It would be nice to communicate with them.

Sri Lanka is a wonderful country and population are always smiling and waving; it’s a beautiful lesson for us people from occidental country.

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Thursday, January 30th 2020

Morning

Team 1: Abhi, Helena, Sanela, Awana and Maria

This morning we did Camera trapping in the Karu Forest. We changed camera trap batteries, SD cards and checked the photos. There were a lot of nice captures including several of wild cats.

We set up our sand traps since they were all messed up due to the recent rains.

Afternoon

Team 1: Abby, , Helena, Sanela, Awana and Maria

We did not record any elephants at Madupitiya area.

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Friday, January 31st 2020

Morning

Team 1: Abhi, , Helena, Sanela, Awana and Maria

We did fence monitoring at Guruwela Yaya fence near the Mahaweli River. We observed lot of elephant activities near the fence.

Afternoon

Abhi, Helena, Maria & Awana left on their weekend trips to Trincomalee & Pasikuda.

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Elizabeth (Bessie) Hyman
England

I came to volunteer at the SLWCS for 3 weeks with no idea of the human elephant conflict in Sri Lanka and was amazed not only by the huge issues that people and elephants face but also by the amount of successful work the organization is doing to combat this. We spent some time with the local kids who come once a week and they told us about the Ele Bus which really shows that the project is tackling the root of the issues, the chance to work with and meet the local people and help them with initiatives like the orange trees was an eye opening experience, and really helped us feel connected to the community. In the afternoons the elephant monitoring provided was a much appreciated treat and watching the elephants and their baby’s in their natural habitat is truly breathtaking, and reminded me why I’m here . From weeding to fence monitoring you really get a feeling that you are doing something productive and meaningful.

The teams are wonderful, and there is always something to laugh about or a game of carom to be lost. I immediately felt at home in the field house and it was always fun to be around the other volunteers. The food is delicious and the trips in to town help supplement this. They are also incredibly helpful helping to organize weekend trips and when I was ill they drove me to the doctors helping me feel at ease here. I will miss being here and hope one day to come back and see how the current projects are coming along, and what new ideas they are implementing.

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For information on the SLWCS Volunteer Program please send inquiries to: info@slwcs.org

SLWCS Staff and Volunteer shirts sponsored by elephantea

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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!

The Marine Project volunteers are helping to find solutions to save our marine environment

On Friday we watched fishermen coming back from their early morning fishing. Getting to know the methods and practices of the local fishermen and the

 

 

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"On Friday we watched fishermen coming back from their early morning fishing. Getting to know the methods and practices of the local fishermen and the way these people interact with the ocean is the key to understanding their impact on the marine ecosystems." Tim Gotz, Germany

 

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Waiting for the fishermen to haul their net to collect information on the species that are caught

 

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An unusual fish: A Sea Robin or Gunard (Lepidotrigla longipinnis)

 

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A sea snake of the genus Hydrophis caught in a fishing net and died as a result of suffocation

 

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By catch accounts for the loss of many species, including sea turtles, dugongs and dolphins.

 

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A Ladyfish or Ten Pounder (Elops machnata) known locally as the Mannawa is not commercially valued. Yet it is caught during fishing for other commercially valuable species

 

The current levels of effective management and conservation work being carried out in relation to Sri Lanka’s marine and coastal ecosystems is inadequate and need greater efforts considering that over one million people make a living from marine resources. With the reduction in conflict and increase in safety, tourism and investment comes an opportunity to help preserve and regenerate some of Sri Lanka’s unique and economically important marine and coastal ecosystems and biodiversity while benefiting local communities through preserving and restoring sources of food and income.

 

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Reef fishes, various crustaceans and echinoderms are caught for the ornamental fish industry

 

The Sri Lankan Wildlife Conservation Society is currently working to establish a broad spectrum, long term marine research and conservation center on the west coast of Sri Lanka. The center will provide a base to enable monitoring, education, hands on conservation and research into the unique and sensitive Sri Lankan marine environment in relation to climate change, pollution and resource use.

 

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The Marine Project is be based in the Kalpitiya Peninsular in the Northwestern Province in the Puttalam District. The project focuses on both brackish water and marine ecosystems in an effort to understand the synergies, correlations and co-dependency between these two environments to make Kalpitiya one of the most biologically diverse marine ecosystems in Sri Lanka. The Kalpitiya-Karaitive-Puttalam Coastal Wetlands Complex includes the Puttalam Lagoon, which is the largest inland brackish water body in Sri Lanka. The Puttalam Lagoon was identified as a wetland of international importance and listed in the Directory of Asian Wetlands in 1989.

 

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A sun dried and brittle shell of a green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas)

 

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Sea Grass beds are one of the most important ecosystems that helps maintain the health of the lagoon

 

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The rare Pink or Indian Ocean Humpback Dolphins (Sousa plumbea) in the Puttalam Lagoon

 

The Marine Project is based on joint and innovative research and collaborative spirit that encourages civil society participation and citizen science. The Marine Project will be a practical demonstration of integrating scientific research and community-based conservation with the principles of ecotourism, green technology and sustainable development.

Our efforts will contribute to increasing the knowledge about Sri Lanka’s marine resources and in their conservation and sustainable management.

The Marine Project offers volunteers the opportunity to participate in field work to study as well as help in the conservation of threatened and endangered marine, coastal and lagoon environments by supporting and assisting the SLWCS research scientists in their activities.

 

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Fish catch studies

 

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Invasive species and fouling studies

 

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Invasive fouling barnacle

 

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An attractive mollusc shell

 

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Beach pollution studies

 

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Sea snakes of the genus Hydrophis

 

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Marine mammals studies

 

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A pod of spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris)

 

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Mangrove studies and conservation

 

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Volunteers are crucial to our research and conservation efforts

 

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Economic incentives play a crucial role in nature conservation at all levels of society―local to global. It is particularly important to have appropriate incentives for marine conservation since marine resource use is very closely linked to rural coastal communities livelihoods.

The SLWCS Maine Project is a broad spectrum, long term marine research and conservation project that will develop a new paradigm for community-based marine conservation in Sri Lanka.

 

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An immersive, hands on experiential program for marine research and conservation

 

For information about the Marine Project Volunteering Program please contact us at: info@slwcs.org

 

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Spinner dolphins skim off the coastal waters of Kalpitiya.

 

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

Ruvini Weerasinghe/SLWCS
Chinthaka Weerasinghe/SLWCS
Lasun Anuranga/SLWCS
Asitha Lakmal/SLWCS
Ravi Corea/SLWCS
Ajantha Palliyawadana (pink dolphins)
Pelagikos (dead dugong)

 

SLWCS Sponsor Logos October 2019

 

Thanks & Regards,


Sathsara 

Associate Software  Engineer

EFutures Private Limited

No. 20/54, Fairfield Gardens, Colombo 08, Sri Lanka. 
M – 0775309503  Web – http://www.efuturesworld.com 

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Australian Sri Lankan volunteer, Chat shares his experiences volunteering for the SLWCS

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"The SLWCS programs start with a balanced perspective, its ethos in allowing humans and animals to both win is its core admirable character. This is what sets it apart from other experiences. It finds practical solutions to sometimes very complex problems." Chathuranga (Chat) Bandaranayake, Australia

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Chathuranga (Chat) Bandaranayake
Australia
December 2019

I am a Sri Lankan Australian by citizenship and by birth. I was born here in Sri Lanka and have lived in Australia for 27 years. I have come back to Sri Lanka often but this is the first time I have searched for something that I can be a part of, learn about my land and contribute in a humble way even for a short time.

When I looked on the internet, it was very hard to find programs like this in Sri Lanka. The few programs that was here, the details were lacking, including certifications and endorsements from both the government and private sector. A lot of volunteering programs that are around, on the surface looked positive but lacked the credibility or even the depth in which one could see it was making a meaningful difference.

The corporate support for SLWCS and the endorsement from the UNDP provided the credibility for a program of this nature to be something I wanted to participate in.

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Before arrival, one feels apprehensive about the decisions and the experience I will face. But from the moment I spoke and subsequently arrived at the field house, I felt instantly home. To say the staff here is magnificent is to sell it short. They are dedicated, passionate, kind, homely, nurturing, fun and engaging. In the time I have been here, the field house has always been filled with laughter, joy and smiles. Within hours, we are more than strangers coming together for an experience, we were family.

The staff here, know their mission, they are always the first up in the morning and the last to sleep. They watch over us as their own and ensure that nothing is missing. In my one week, I have nothing but admiration for their dedication, respect and courage.

What is impressive is that from the drivers to the staff at the field house has a deep understanding of the animals in the local area, environment and the challenges of managing the local community and the environment.

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SLWCS Field Scientist, Chathuranga explaining how much information can be gathered by studying elephant dung.

The field work in the program that each volunteer undertakes is real and not light on. You deep dive into each aspect of the program. From clearing weeds out of 150 tree orange grove, analyzing poop samples to talking with the local community about elephant interactions, behaviors or incidents. That is enriching and rewarding itself.

In a world where, every organization faces the challenges of transparency, the grassroots level program and the people within it provide a real experience. The value of the knowledge I have gained, I will take with me to tell my friends, family and my wider networks. I have already done that with my social media channels.

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In my week here, I have seen elephants in the wild, other flora and fauna. The problems that come with elephant and human conflict, the challenges of rural life, the problems with subsistence farming, including the degradation of ground water through the use of pesticides, the lack of infrastructure and social problems is enlightening.

The work carried out by the team at SLWCS can only be described as a powerful tool that has tremendous potential. I would encourage the organization to continue to be a shining example of setting an example to local government and people of the power of that tool and transparency.

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In my very brief time, my life has truly changed in my awareness, engagement and passion for what is being done here, the biodiversity of Sri Lanka and the bond with the local people. This is what it can do to one individual who had some experience of Sri Lanka and in having the privilege of being born here but also have the advantage of another land. The volunteers I have been with also share the same thoughts and passions but without starting from a homeground advantage.

I am grateful and I will certainly come back, along with friends I will send along the way. In the hope I see this dream become larger and more engaging.

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Two Chats…

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For information on the SLWCS Volunteer Program please visit: https://www.slwcs.org/volunteer or email us at: info@slwcs.org

SLWCS Staff and Volunteer shirts sponsored by elephantea

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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!

November volunteers gets a first hand experience of human elephant conflict

"From the moment I booked my trip, I just felt that I was coming to exactly the right place in the world." Lucinda Colucci, U.K. Alicia Chadwick Vol

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"From the moment I booked my trip, I just felt that I was coming to exactly the right place in the world." Lucinda Colucci, U.K.

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Alicia Chadwick
Volunteer Coordinator
SLWCS

Monday, November 25th 2019

Morning

Team 1: Hella, Laura, Oswin, Robert, Helen and Celine – Orange tree mapping of the newly distributed trees was conducted around the village of Pussellayaya.

Afternoon

All Volunteers: Elephant observation was conducted at Weheragala and Madupitiya today. No elephants were observed.

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Tuesday, November 26th 2019

Morning

Team 1: Hella, Laura, Oswin, Robert, Helen, Marnie and Celine – Volunteers went to Karu forest to reset the sand traps. There were footprints of leopard, deer, and elephants.

Afternoon

All Volunteers: We all went to Naminigama for elephant observations. No elephants were observed. However, there were many birds, and we watched the farmers sew their fields with rice.

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Wednesday, November 27th 2019

Morning

Team 1: Hella, Laura, Oswin, Robert, Helen, Marnie and Celine – In the morning the team visited a farmer whose crops were destroyed by an elephant to document it. The group then conducted a pugmark survey at Meda Ela and came across jungle cat prints. Soon after the group received a phone call that a villager's house had been broken by an elephant. The team immediately left to visit the damage house and and document it.

Afternoon

Team 1: Celine, Helen and Robert visited the national park with Alicia. It was an incredible observation where over 60 elephants surrounded our jeep and grazed peacefully.

Team 2: Hella, Laura and Oswin went to Meda Kanda with Chathuranga. No elephants were observed.

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Thursday, November 28th 2019

Morning

Team 1: Hella, Laura, Oswin, Robert, Helen and Celine – For the morning activity, we planted 12 orange trees in the butterfly garden. It was so great to see the volunteers enjoying making their physical mark on the butterfly conservation project.

Afternoon

All Volunteers: Went to the Weheragala tank for elephant observations. We saw two sub-adult males grazing in the Tree Hut Forest. We were all delighted.

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Friday, November 29th 2019

Morning

Team 1: Hella, Laura, Oswin, Robert, Helen and Celine – This morning was spent doing fence monitoring and dung analysis along the Guruwelayaya area. It began to rain a lot and get torrential so we finished a little early. We then went to the concert at the Pussellayaya public school and gave some donations to the students.

Afternoon

All Volunteers Observation in Weheragala tank in the evening. No elephants were observed.

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For information on the SLWCS Volunteer Program please visit: https://www.slwcs.org/volunteer

SLWCS Staff and Volunteer shirts sponsored by elephantea

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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!

August Volunteers wrap up the Summer with their experiences

"I had a fantastic time, and I wouldn’t change anything about the program. It is so hard to leave, and I would extend my trip if I could! Thank you al

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"I had a fantastic time, and I wouldn’t change anything about the program. It is so hard to leave, and I would extend my trip if I could! Thank you all for a wonderful volunteer experience." Emma Lancaster, USA

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Aurélie (Lily) Coste Chareyre
France

Three words: I loved it. This project brings me a lot of things as on human level as on an animal level. I discovered a new world which is especially what I wanted. I had never volunteered in my life and this was the perfect start; I am sure I will do another one later, perhaps medical volunteering as I am in the medical field.

The staff were lovely, always taking care of the volunteers. The field house was full of life, I very much enjoyed our card game night.

I am just disappointed I didn’t see the “elephant bus” because of holidays.

Thank you very much for these 2 weeks, I have in my head many memories which I will never forget.

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Scott Howells
Wales

What a great introduction for me into the world of volunteering! Sri Lanka is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited. The work you guys are doing here is inspirational; I can see the passion you all have for the project and animal conservation as a whole.

The daily activities we’ve taken part in showed me just how much time and effort go into achieving your goals. In just 2 weeks I have learnt a massive amount about the behaviour patterns of elephants and the issues that are faced as a result of elephant/human conflict. I am also the best Data Recorder that has ever volunteered – fact.

Everyone has been so kind and welcoming. The boys are hilarious and made some of the longer stretches out in the field much more enjoyable with jokes and games to keep morale up. It was great to talk to Chandima and gain a better understanding about what the goals of the project are and what issues you face day to day. Alicia = Legend. She made the 2 weeks doubly enjoyable with her banter, happy personality and kindness.

Summed up, I had an amazing time. Maybe one day I’ll come back if you’re lucky!

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Christopher Sangster
England

The elephant conservation project is a fantastic example of an ethical project that provides a perfect opportunity for volunteers to feel like they are making a real difference without causing harm or exploiting the locals. Wildlife is treated with respect and volunteers must remain at a respectful distance, and the activities the Society are involved in all provide benefits for local farmers as well as improving the situation for wildlife.

The accommodation is simple but provides everything you need. Having a central communal area where everyone can sit and chat or play games makes it easy to socialise. There are fantastic views of the surrounding area, especially at sunrise and sunset, and the resident dog and cats are friendly, especially if you’re eating food.

The field guides are all very friendly and make even the more mundane tasks enjoyable through their jokes and playfulness. They are knowledgeable with regard to wildlife and wiling to answer questions, making the activities even more rewarding. There is also some excellent music played in the field house.

There are a good range of activities, meaning that things never become repetitive. It is worth staying for more than one week to ensure that each activity is experienced more than once, as each day is slightly different. For example, I was able to be involved in planting orange trees at the beginning of my time on the project, then on my last day we travelled round several farms to examine trees that had been planted earlier. Seeing different stages of the various projects was highly rewarding.

Overall, I highly enjoyed my time on the project and my only wish is that I could have stayed longer. I would highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in wildlife conservation, or just a love of elephants generally.

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Todd Soyck
USA

The three weeks at the Elephant Project have gone by quickly. What I valued most about the project was the work we did that was geared towards reducing human/elephant conflict. Project Orange Elephant—both planting and monitoring the orange tree saplings—was a rewarding experience. While at times the work was hard, never was I asked to do any more than I could handle and plenty of breaks were allowed during the hot part of the day. Of course, monitoring the elephants in the afternoon and early evening was always a joy.

As for the staff they were helpful, friendly and fun all at the same time. Questions about things were handled very well by those in charge. Also, they were very good about looking after our welfare when it came to health issues.

The food was adequate as to expectations. The accommodations, while a bit simple, were also adequate to meet my immediate needs for sleep and hygiene.

Overall, I met some very nice people, learned a lot about the fauna and culture of Sri Lanka and enjoyed my stay very much.

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Eileen Schildberg
Germany

You can have a lot of fun in the SLWCS if you get involved with the project and the people and do not be afraid of getting a little dirty. They take care of the volunteers very well, the staff is lovely and everything is always clean and the food is very delicious. In addition, there is always a contact person on site if you need help.

I learned a lot about the animals, the work here and about the culture. I really enjoyed seeing how dedicated the whole team is to helping people and animals on the ground. But I was most fascinated by the Project Orange Elephant, which found out that elephants do not eat oranges and they try to avoid damage. Also it was always nice to see the elephants in real nature every day.

I stayed in this project for 2 weeks, but would recommend to anyone if it is possible to stay longer. I spend a wonderful time here, which I will not forget. The filed house becomes your own family, your own home. I will miss the time here very much and if I have the opportunity I would come again.

Many thanks to the wonderful team.

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Emma Lancaster
USA

I heard about this volunteer program through my friend Rae, who discovered it through IVHQ. I read up on the program, and really liked the idea of volunteering in wild elephant conservation in a non-invasive way.

I genuinely enjoyed everything about the volunteer program here. It was really nice to have a variety of different activities every week, and the same routine of elephant observation at night. I also really enjoyed the flexibility of being able to do more work if you wanted to help further. I got a chance to help with elephant ID’s a few times in the afternoons, and it was not only fun, but really useful for me to learn about the process of IDing and the techniques to distinguish elephants apart. I am really happy that I had the opportunity to help out with this, and I just wish I could have done more!

I loved the variety of projects each week – dung analysis, pugmark surveys, fence monitoring, and project orange I liked especially, although I think my favourite project was the dung analysis!! It was nice that the volunteers were given the opportunity to do the data collection and recording. I felt like doing this, I was able to learn a bit more about the processes behind the research and I felt more involved.

The elephant observations were also really nice. Even on the days where we didn’t see any elephants, I still had so much fun riding in the jeeps and hanging out with everybody. I also got a chance to practice Sinhala during this time!

The staff is amazing!! I got along with all of them really well. Alicia is very nice and friendly, and helped me get involved with the elephant ID’s which was super awesome! The other staff members are hilarious (Siria especially), and they were always more than happy to teach me new things about the work, and Sinhala words. There was never a dull moment here thanks to the staff; they all made me feel like I was at home!

The food here was delicious and not too spicy. I never got sick of the meals, although it was nice being able to stop in town once a week to get snacks to feed my chocolate cravings.

Overall, I had a fantastic time, and I wouldn’t change anything about the program. It is so hard to leave, and I would extend my trip if I could! Thank you all for a wonderful volunteer experience 

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Horsfield Family: Michelle, Paul & Ruari and Toby kids aged 10 & 12
UK

We booked to come as we wanted to do something together as a family experiencing a new culture and gaining some personal satisfaction from contributing to a worthwhile project. We have grown together and as parents we’ve enjoyed seeing how our kids operate with other adults in a communal setting like this. We have enjoyed meeting the staff who live locally and eating the tasty food so well prepared by Leela Ratuna.

It has been overall a great adventure and we have all learned a lot; roughing it in dorms is all part of the charm; the boys have loved the endless games of Uno in the evenings and we’ve learnt a lot about the human elephant conflict issue here.

Good luck with the future and we all wish you well.

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Jamie and Frances Clough-Murray
UK

We have had an amazing time doing what we like to do best, watch wildlife in its natural habitat.

The staff were really friendly and accommodating. Alicia is a perfect volunteer coordinator, enthusiastic, always happy to listen and help with everything including the weekends. The Field Scouts are really friendly and can get there point over without speaking much English (which is better than my non existent Sinhala). Siriya is an amazing guide and always finds a way to lighten the mood if its down, which is a real asset.

The small dorm style rooms are basic but work really well, and the fans are a god send, we have had much worse on other volunteer projects.

The morning activities are nice and varied and we felt like we are making small contributions to a larger picture. We missed out on going out on the Ellie-bus due to school holidays, which might have been nice.

The elephant observations from an Elephant perspective is really good, informative and quite exciting.

Frances – (Wanted to do her own review also)

I’ve had a wonderful time. The staff are really helpful. You may have to play charades but it always seems to work. The Field Scouts are great and such fun. Alicia the volunteer coordinator is so friendly as well as helpful. Everyone goes out of their way to make sure you have the best possible experience.

The food can be a bit spicy but I’m a wuss with spice. Siriya is so good at making the mood lighter, making us laugh, teaching us the local games and local words like numbers and animal names. I’ve laughed every single day. Loved helping plant the orange trees to help farmers or prep the butterfly garden. All the activities are aimed at increasing knowledge or helping people in order to protect the elephants.

I haven’t been able to go on the EleBus due to school holidays. The staff have helped to plan and book activities for the weekends off. The other volunteers are cool too. All in all just come join in and enjoy. I absolutely loved it!

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For information on the SLWCS Volunteer Program please visit: https://www.slwcs.org/volunteer

SLWCS Staff and Volunteer shirts sponsored by elephantea

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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!

Project Orange Elephant: Creating Sustainable Livelihoods, Coexistence with Elephants and addressing Climate Change

01. Child of POE
 

"Breakfast without orange juice is like a day without sunshine." Anita Bryant

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Project Orange Elephant is ensuring a sustainable future for these children

On the morning of Thursday, September 26, 2019 large groups of villagers headed to the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society Field House in Pussellayaya. As the villagers came up the drive way their noses would have been assailed by the invigorating aroma of citrus. By our office 5,000 grafted orange plants were waiting for these villagers. For the upcoming planting season which will begin with the onset of the Northeast Monsoon rains in October, the SLWCS has planned to distribute 7,000 grafted orange plants. The first consignment of 5000 plants was delivered on Tuesday and now the villagers who had signed up for the program had gathered at our Field House to collect their plants.

01. Delivery

Delivering five thousand orange plants

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Volunteers helping to unload the orange plants

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Five thousand orange plants ready for distribution and planting

One hundred and fifty nine villagers consisting 37 villagers from Weheragalagama, 47 villagers from Pussellayaya, 50 villagers from Dunuvila and 25 villagers from Goviraja Pitiya received 5000 orange plants.

03. POE Villagers
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02C. POE 5000 Plants
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The POE Crew

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Weeding the Orange plants

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04A. POE Villagers

It was very interesting to see how the villagers transported their plants: By hand, in wheelbarrows, in huge tractors and Land Master hand tractors hauling trailers, scooters, motorcycles and bicycles, on their shoulders and on their heads. The diversity of rural conveyance systems is pretty varied and unique.

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Taking plants in a wheelbarrow

07. Tuk Tuk

Loading plants into a Tuk Tuk

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Transporting plants by Land Master hand tractor

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Transporting plants by tractor trailer

14D. Volunteers
13. Shoulder

On the shoulder…

11. On Heads

…on heads

10. Scooter

By Scooters…

14. Glorious

…even in Glorious

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By Bicycle…

08 By Hand

…and by hand

Little children apparently found the entire event very enjoyable—especially helping their parents to select plants and loading them into the various conveyances they had traveled by to the event. It was great to have children attending the plant distribution since it is important from very early on to inculcate in them how important it is to become good stewards for the environment. This is a role the SLWCS takes very seriously—educating and creating awareness in children about protecting the environment, conserving wildlife, addressing climate change and living sustainably.

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The Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society very warmly and gratefully acknowledges the financial support received from The Intrepid Foundation of Australia, The Sea of Change Foundation of the USA and EleBalance, Inc., of the USA to the Project Orange Elephant. Their support is helping POE to continue to make a difference in the lives of farmers, elephants and the environment in Wasgamuwa, Sri Lanka.

Vincent Van Gogh is said to have proclaimed there would be no blue without orange. For the people and elephants of Wasgamuwa there would be no coexistence without oranges.

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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!
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Photo Credits:

Chinthaka Weerasinghe/SLWCS
Alicia Chadwick/SLWCS

Thanks & Regards,


Sathsara 

Associate Software  Engineer

EFutures Private Limited

No. 20/54, Fairfield Gardens, Colombo 08, Sri Lanka. 
M – 0775309503  Web – http://www.efuturesworld.com 

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