Human elephant conflict mitigation and research for Asian elephant conservation

Project name:

Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society

Project purpose:

The main threats they face in Sri Lanka are habitat loss due to clearing of forest for subsistence agriculture, mega development projects, poaching for ivory, illegal capture and retribution killing for raiding crops. Through our Saving Elephants by Helping People Project we are striving to make elephants more valuable to the local communities alive rather than dead, by engaging, training and paying locals to be involved in their conservation together with scientists and volunteers and by developing a sustainable tourism program in the area. By engaging and working with locally recruited and trained field assistants the volunteers help to send a strong conservation message to the local communities to value and protect their environment and wildlife.

Project activities:

  • animal interaction

  • community awareness

  • data collection/analysis

  • habitat restoration/management

Weekly cost (approx USD):

$

950

Direct benefits you gain:

  • cultural integration

  • data/statistical skills

  • field research skills

  • gain a qualification or credit

  • remote scenic location

  • report writing

  • undertake your own research

  • GIS analysis

Noteworthy conservation points:

  • contributes to environmental policy

  • development goals (supporting local community)

  • publishes work

Accommodation:

The design of the Field House is perfect for the climate and terrain it is situated—it is very open to the outdoors—which helps to keep the house relatively cool during the hot days and nights and dry during the rainy season. The house has nine bathrooms with flush toilets, showers and sinks. There are six dormitory-style rooms sectioned off for privacy and they are situated around the two communal social areas of the house. The rooms have comfortable bunk beds for 6 or up to 18 people to share.

When does the project run?

All year

Facilities:

accommodation included, food included, cooking facilities, electricity, local shops, near-by medical, refillable drinking water, cold shower, western toilet. Electric fans, mosquito nets, pillows and clean bed-sheets are provided. All meals are freshly prepared every day and there is a 24/7 Tea/Coffee Station. The world famous Ceylon Tea is the norm. Vegan and vegetarian meals are provided. There is good mobile cellphone coverage. Volunteers are advised to purchase SIM cards from local service providers with data for WiFi access. Facilities to charge electronic equipment is available throughout the house.

How long can I stay?

Minimum 1 week. Five days a week / weekends off

Requirements:

  • None

Details of the day-to-day life on the project:

Situated on a hill by the southeastern boundary of the Pussellayaya village in Wasgamuwa in the Central Province of Sri Lanka, the SLWCS Field House overlooks on an incredibly scenic and dynamic tapestry of rural and remote Sri Lanka. The environment is a kaleidoscope of colors, moods, weather, nature and atmosphere that is always in constant motion.

To the south along the far horizon stand the most significant and one of the most distinguishing geographic features of the Central Province, the Knuckles Mountain Range. Looming over the landscape the imposing and distinctly knuckle-shaped mountain ridge is unmistakable. By the base of the hill where the Field House stands is the vast expanse of open water known as the Karauw-gus Weva, which is actually a man-made irrigation reservoir or tank and not a natural lake. The tank is like a vast mirror that reflects the skies, the mountains and the ever changing moods of the land while creating a sense of infinite space and freedom.

 

We established the Carnivore Project to gather information on the status of seven carnivore species, including the sloth bear, leopard, rusty-spotted cat, fishing cat, jungle cat, golden palm civet, and the Sri Lankan jackal to develop measures for their conservation. With urban and agricultural development pressure advancing more rapidly in Sri Lanka, the need to know more about the threats faced by the island’s carnivore populations is more urgent today than ever before.

The Project Orange Elephant (POE) was established to encourage farmers to cultivate crops such as orange that are not attractive to elephants so they have an alternative income when elephants destroy their rice crop. Since they have a supplementary income the farmers will feel less hostile towards elephants for destroying their rice crop. The POE received a Most Innovative Development Project Award from the Global Development Network in June 2015. The volunteers help POE farmers with planting orange plants, in plant care and management and to collect data on plant growth and survival. Volunteers also help to harvest oranges and sort them for marketing.



Through our SCIENCE Program we are educating rural school children to value their environment and to become better stewards to take care of it. In addition we get them to create butterfly gardens and organic gardens to increase local biodiversity. Recently we also established the world's first EleFriendly Bus Service to provide safe transportation to school children that have to walk through an elephant corridor amidst elephants every day to school and back. You find more information about the EleBus at this link: http://www.slwcs.org/#!elefriendly-bus/c17ti 



As a volunteer you will be supporting these efforts as well as assisting us in our ongoing efforts to address human-elephant conflicts for the conservation of the endangered Sri Lankan elephant. Through direct and indirect field observations you will help to gather information on elephants. You will also visit villages that have been attacked by elephants to gather information on human-elephant conflicts. During these surveys you will visit village homes and discuss with villagers the problems they have from elephants what could be solutions to address these issues and concerns. In addition you will also get an opportunity to help collect data on leopards and other carnivores, monitor an alternative land use program, participate in an ongoing bird survey, help to collect data on small mammals and assist in our environmental education program. 

The fees for the volunteer program are:

One week: US$950/person
Two weeks: US$1,260/person
Three weeks: US$1,460/person
Four weeks: US$1,660/person

The fees include:

· Project transportation in the field
· Pick-up from hotel (hotel accommodation not included in the program fees) in Colombo and transfer to project site
· All meals and refreshments
· Full accommodation
· Orientation and briefings
· Guidance and training
· Field Programs

Reviews & ratings

Adriano

Volunteer

Very Good Program

My week at Daktari was excellent and the program is very intense in the sense that we all get together with the kids and animals from 7am until 9 pm. It is an excellent choice for a first volunteering program abroad considering and I would definitely like to go back someday

Corinne

Intern

It was an experience that I feel extremely lucky to have been a part of

Wild Sun Rescue is an animal rehabilitation center located in the remote and scenic fishing village of Cabuya, Costa Rica. The long-term (12 week) volunteer experience involved getting to do hands-on work with all of the animals that are housed at the center, including howler monkeys, capuchins, opossums, squirrels and raptors. The daily duties included diet prep (mostly chopping and cooking fruits and veggies), enclosure cleaning, facility maintenance (repairing enclosures, building new enclosures and enrichment), and animal handling and medical treatment. It was an experience that I feel extremely lucky to have been a part of--nowhere else in the world would I be able to work with all of these amazing animals, in such a unique and beautiful location. As a wildlife biology intern, I also had the opportunity to create my own research project at the center, supervised and assisted by the internship coordinator.

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