Volunteer Abroad Sri Lanka: Elephant Conservation
The small country southeast of the Indian subcontinent is highly affected by Human Wildlife Conflict: wild elephants intrude into villages and fields. Local farmers complain about crop and material damage worth millions of dollars every year, unintentionally caused by the animals searching for food. To protect their property the elephants are driven off by the locals – which often causes wounding or even death of the animals. The result: the already endangered population of the Asian elephant decreases even more.
As part of this species conservation project you dedicate yourself to the protection of these stunning animals by supporting educational work in local communities and thus providing more background knowledge about the animals’ value to the local people.
Travel to the heart of Sri Lanka, get to know the native flora and fauna in an unforgettable way, and acquire valuable knowledge about species conservation under the guidance of experienced scientists and nature conservationists!
- Become part of a fascinating wildlife project in Sri Lanka
- Dedicate yourself to protecting the endangered Asian elephant and other wildlife
- Be part of an international team of volunteers and conservationists
- Gain insights into sustainable wildlife conservation and Sri Lanka’s rich culture
- Experience Sri Lanka’s breathtaking biodiversity
Conservation volunteering in Sri Lanka
As a volunteer in our wildlife conservation project in Sri Lanka you commit yourself to the protection of the endangered Asian elephant and other wild animals and get to know the country’s diverse flora and fauna.
Arrival and orientation in Asia
The species conservation project in Sri Lanka always starts on Monday. You arrive one day prior to project start at the Colombo International Airport and spend one night in a hotel in town. You get to the hotel by airport transfer. The following day you will be picked up by an associate of our partner and taken to the train station. After a three-hour train ride you will arrive in Sri Lanka’s “cultural” capital Kandy. After a one-hour stay you can spend having breakfast or sightseeing in Kandy you travel another four or five hours by bus until you arrive at the project site. For an extra charge you can also book a private transfer which takes you from the hotel/airport in Colombo directly to the project site. After your arrival you will have a late lunch and, after that, join an orientation meeting during which you will be introduced to the project, the staff, the field site, their tasks as well as safety and security, rules and procedures. Project-wise, you will participate in the evening activity.
Volunteer activities during the elephant project
As a volunteer you work together with experienced scientists from Sri Lanka as well as volunteers from all over the world. In the course of direct and indirect field research you, as a volunteer, help to collect information about the endangered Asian elephant, other wild animals, and tropical ecosystems. Furthermore, you collect important environmental and socio-economic data in order to be able to develop community-based species conservation programmes. This includes observing and documenting concrete incidents of the Human-Wildlife Conflict.
Working together with the local public is of high significance: you attend discussions with local farmers in order to identify practical solutions for the Human-Wildlife Conflict. Conveying environmentally relevant knowledge at local schools is also one of your tasks. You will also assist with a project to study carnivores such as the leopard, sloth bear and several species of small wild cats. You will help in setting up remote cameras to study the behavior of these illusive wild animals and gather field data to understand their ecology.
Accommodation during your stay abroad in Sri Lanka
During your time as a species conservation volunteer you will stay in an open and spacious as well as furnished field house. The guesthouse is very basic with only the essential amenities. The house provides six simple and rustic bedrooms that provide gender based shared accommodation. Furthermore, there are three bathrooms with a toilet, washbasin, and shower. The house also has a kitchen, a lounge area and a dining room in which you usually receive three daily and freshly cooked (mostly vegetarian) meals. In order to get in touch with home you can use the local mobile network.
Leisure time during the wildlife conservation project
As a volunteer you usually have free time on the weekend. You can use these days to discover cities like Kandy or Dambulla, visit cultural sites like ancient temples and tea plantations or relax at beautiful beaches. Feel free to contact us or the staff on site who provide tips about leisure activities and can help you plan these trips. Most of the time, you can also use the daily evening hours for your own activities: read a book, play board games or spend the evening with other volunteers reflecting on the day’s activities.
Arriving in Sri Lanka
Your stay in the wildlife conservation project: A typical volunteer day
Last day in the volunteer project and departure
FAQ – Learn more about this trip
“Make sure you take time to learn as much as possible about the local town. There are many local stores and food vendors and provide special local treats.”
“I especially liked the great team on site and visiting Wasgamuwa National Park.”
1. Wasgamuwa National Park
Wasgamuwa National Park is located in Sri Lanka's northern central province. The park of about 39,000 hectares is characterized by an enormous biodiversity. Not only large herds of Asian elephants can be observed, but also more than 150 different plant species, 23 different mammal species, 143 bird species and 50 butterfly species are native to the green depths.
Your accommodation is located near the Wasgamuwa National Park. Situated on a hill, it offers a picturesque view of the nearby lake and the Knuckles Mountain Range.
Purpose of the conservation project in Sri Lanka
Nowadays, one of the biggest challenges for the Sri Lankan elephant and one of the greatest environmental and socio-economic crises for the whole rural area of Sri Lanka is Human-Elephant Conflict. Each year, the native elephants are unintentionally the cause for crop and property damage worth millions of dollars – as a result the farmers try to drive off the elephants which repeatedly causes wounding or even death of the animals. This way, more than 200 elephants fall victim to the Human-Elephant Conflict every year – an alarming situation.
With approx. 5000 animals still living in Sri Lanka, the already declining population of the Asian elephant is rated as endangered by the IUCN-Red List. The main threats the species faces in Sri Lanka are habitat loss due to deforestation, mega development projects, ivory poaching, illegal capture as well as the above mentioned Human-Elephant Conflict.
The aim of the project is thus to inform the locals in the area about the elephants’ situation, about their worth, and the need for their protection. Measures have been developed to inform the people on site, to engage and train them, and thus make them, together with scientists and volunteers, participants in the protection of the animals. The development of a sustainable tourism programme is also part of the project.
But not only the Asian elephant is exposed to increasing dangers – also numerous carnivore species are becoming more and more endangered and their populations are declining. That’s why the project is also concerned with recording relevant data of the carnivore populations to develop suitable species conservation measures for these animals.
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