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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Black-headed Ibis

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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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Purple Swamphen

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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Water Buffalo

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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Black-headed Ibis

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

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