The first day in the project usually starts with a short introduction for the new volunteers: They get to know the project’s tasks and goals as well as the rules in camp. The briefing is followed by the actual field work. The activity is dependent on the day. On her first afternoon in the project, Katharina helped the team with some “Elephant Observation”. “Together with several staff members we went to a large water tank, about a 20-minute drive from camp. Only a few minutes had passed until we actually saw some elephants. First of all, we observed them on our own. After a while we were handed pencils and sheets so we could note down the animals’ current state and behaviour. After the elephants disappeared in the bush and other animals couldn’t be spotted we went back to camp.”
A “Fence Patrol” was scheduled for the following morning. Katharina and the team drove to a small papaya farm which was encircled by a fence to make sure that elephants could not enter the area. After our arrival we began slowly walking by the fence and noting down all possible damages. “After we had checked the fence very carefully, we made our way back to the field house. Damages could not be found.” Back at camp the team had lunch and enjoyed a short siesta before heading back into the field for another Elephant Observation.
The next morning it was Katharina’s last day in the project. Her last activity: birding. One more time they went to the papaya farm and started documenting all birds which could be seen near the plantations. “You start in one spot, stay there for 15 minutes and note down all the birds you can see or hear. Afterwards you move on to the next spot, about 100-200 metres away, and repeat the procedure. Eight spots and a multitude of birds later you finish the task and go back to the field house.” As the project unfolds its work near Wasgamuwa Nationalpark, activities partly take place in the park – one park visit per volunteer is included. On the weekend the project usually pauses its work and the volunteers can use this time for their own activities.