Backroads Adventures in Sri Lanka
I will miss you all…
I stayed at Wasgamuwa with the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society for 3 weeks in total, from the 17th Jan 2022 to the 7th Feb 2022. I will start by saying that if you are simply after a holiday with no added extras or adventure then come to Sri Lanka. However if (like me) you are looking for a true cultural experience, you would like to work for a real wildlife conservation project and you want to meet some genuinely interesting, kind-hearted and fun people – then this is where you need to come – the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society.
Sometimes, the work can be physical and it is always hot in Sri Lanka (especially if you come from the UK) but the staff is counted on to ensure the mood stays positive and the tasks are well explained. Elephant days are obviously the best days and I will never forget my encounters with them.
I would also like to pay tribute to the staff, I was with Siriya and Assi – who were always fun to be around. Chandima – who is incredibly knowledgeable about the wildlife and environment of Wasgamuwa. The rest of the staff, Chinthaka, Leela, Suwarana and Sedara who ensured I was well looked after. I loved my time here, I have made lots of friends and I am very glad that I came.
*Thank you in Sinhalese
I came to Sri Lanka to see how SLWCS and the ‘Saving Elephants by Helping People’ (SEHP) project was helping to mitigate human-elephant conflict.
I leave Sri Lanka now having first hand experience of how SLWCS and SEHP are achieving this and the challenges they face.
My trip started with a detailed explanation of the history of the organisation/project – when it was set up, why it was necessary and some of the success stories. The day after I arrived (once I had settled in), I become fully submerged in the project activities.
Over the course of my time here, I have experienced the following:
- Tracking and recording data on the behaviour and movement of the elephants in Wasgamuwa National Park (as well as enjoying seeing other wildlife e.g., Water Buffalo, Crocodiles, Deer and many bird species).
- Talking to local farmers about the success of their orange tree plantations (as an alternative crop that elephants generally tend not to target).
- Assessing damage to electric fences by elephants (fences that ‘fence people in’ rather than fence elephants into the National Park).
- Setting camera traps to record the presence/number of leopards, sloth bears and other animals in the forest.
Other activities included bird watching and helping to create a butterfly sanctuary.
This project isn’t just about observing the elephants, it is also about working with the local communities to find ways to reduce human-elephant conflicts e.g., the Project Orange Elephant, the Ele Bus.
I have enjoyed my time on this project. In addition to understanding more about the SEHP project, I have learnt about Sri Lankan culture, acquired lots more knowledge about the local wildlife, admired the spectacular scenery and made friends with the resident dogs and cats at the field house.
Ps. Sigyria (Lion Rock) is worth a visit at the weekend.
For information on the SLWCS Volunteer Program please send inquiries to: [email protected]
SLWCS Staff and Volunteer shirts sponsored by elephantea
Big, rumbling thanks to our Corporate & Organizational Partners for their kind support and to everyone who has donated and supported our wildlife conservation efforts!