Become part of an impressive wildlife conservation project in Sri Lanka and commit yourself to the protection of the endangered Asian elephant and other wild animals! 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. Through direct and indirect field research you help to collect specific information about the elephants in order to develop suitable species conservation measures and solutions to mitigate human wildlife conflicts. Besides that, as a volunteer you also get the opportunity to collect relevant data for the protection of native predators and other mammals, as well as participate in an ongoing bird survey. 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!
With its numerous endemic animal and plant species Sri Lanka is not only a biodiversity hotspot in Asia but in the entire world. The country’s vegetation complies with the rain conditions: While the southwest is characterized by tropical rain and mountain forests due to the hot and humid climate, xerophytic bush vegetation can be found in the north and east of the country. Sri Lanka’s fauna includes crocodiles, pythons, various kinds of primates, predators like the Sri Lankan leopard, the endangered Asian elephant as well as a highly diverse bird life. Due to your placement in the centre of the country and in the surrounding area of the Wasgamuwa National Park, you get to experience the impressive and diverse nature with its tropical forests, diverse wildlife and wide mountain ranges in a close and personal manner.
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.
During your time as a volunteer you fully immerse yourself in the culture and environment close to the Wasgamuwa National Park, habitat of wild Asian elephants, sloth bears, leopards, and numerous other endangered wild animal species. 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.
At the end of your stay you will have gained broad and authentic insights in sustainable species conservation as well as the culture of Sri Lanka and will return home with lots of new valuable knowledge and impressions. On the day of your departure a bus will take you back to Kandy. From Kandy it is your responsibility to plan your onward transportation.
During your time as a species conservation volunteer you will be accommodated in an open and spacious as well as furnished field house. The guesthouse is absolutely basic and featured with only the most necessary things. Located on a hill it offers a picturesque view on the close-by lake and the Knuckles Mountain Range. 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. Pillows, bed linen, ceiling fans, and mosquito nets are provided – volunteers only need to bring towels for themselves. 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. Water and tea are available throughout the day. In order to get in touch with home you can use the local mobile network.
Everybody interested in volunteering abroad should be able to adjust to entirely unfamiliar standards of living in their future host country. Therefore, we would like to point out the importance of being flexible and adaptable regarding the accommodation and sanitary facilities provided by the project. Those are very basic and – depending on the project – cannot be compared to European standards. The equipment and furnishings are limited to a minimum; air conditioning is not available. Depending on your host country occasional power blackouts or water outages are quite common. Please contact us if you have further questions about your accommodation. We are pleased to provide you with comprehensive information since we would like you to feel entirely prepared for your time abroad.
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.
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.