ELEPHANT CONSERVATION VOLUNTEERING IN SRI LANKA
This project offers volunteers a rare opportunity to work alongside local conservationists, educators, community partners and local villagers deep within the heart of beautiful Sri Lanka. This is a true conservation project where wild elephants are not touched at all as they are all in their natural habitat and it is a genuine research based project involving elephant tracking, monitoring, observations, and education to the local communities, running campaigns and awareness programs.
Wasgamuwa is one of protected areas where Sri Lankan Elephants can be seen in large herds. It is also one of the Important Bird Areas in Sri Lanka. The name of the Wasgamuwa has derived through the words “Walas Gamuwa”. “Walasa” is Sinhala for sloth bear and “Gamuwa” means a wood. There is a possibility that wild animals might catch diseases by coming into contact with domestic cattle, which are released to park’s grasslands by the villagers. Wild animals particularly elephants have to compete with these cattle as they have occupied the grazing lands and water pools. These cattle also damage the park’s electric fence. Illegal logging is a major threat and preventing it has been a difficult issue. Elephants damage the properties of the villagers and fatal attacks on them have reported from the park. Environmentalists have raised concern over proposed resettlement of displaced people from the construction of Moragahakanda reservoir. It is suggested that this resulted in escalating the elephant-human clash. There is an urgent need for strategic action designed to mitigate human-elephant conflicts to save the endangered wild elephants of Sri Lanka and enhance the welfare of captive elephants.
Volunteering on this elephant conservation program is truly exciting and an experience of a lifetime. You will get the chance to take part in animal identification and tracking through game drives as well as many other amazing activities. Your duties will include gathering information on elephants and other wildlife and tropical ecosystems; Collecting essential environmental and soci-economic data to help develop community-based conservation programs; Participation in discussions with local villagers to help identify practical solutions to human- elephant conflicts. You will observe, assess and document human-elephant conflicts and teach environmental education to local school children. Depending on needs you will also be building and mending fencing to protect agricultural crops and homes from damage by wild elephants.
Imagine an experience that gives you a complete behind the scenes look at what needs to be done in order to protect this grand animal. Not only will you learn an incredible amount about wildlife conservation in one of Sri Lanka’s most popular national parks, but you will get hands on work experience with real conservationists. Besides elephants there is also carnivore tracking such as leopard monitoring. Everyday you will be working for a minimum of 5 hours. In the evenings most volunteers relax in the volunteer house. There is always someone in the house so you are never alone! On the weekends you can stay in the volunteer house or explore Sri Lanka. Anyone who joins for more than 2 weeks also gets a free entry to visit the National Park.
Previous experience in conservation is not required for this program. However we do expect you to be enthusiastic about animals and conservation in general. There is a minimum age requirement of 18 years for this program.