What is the Wild Elephant Conservation program?
Saving wild elephants by helping local people is the mission of this award winning conservation project on the exotic Indian Ocean island of Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka’s remaining few thousand elephants are in grave danger. Elephants regularly come into contact and conflict with villagers in the remote and beautiful areas surrounding Sri Lanka’s National Parks where demand for farmland increases the pressure on elephant habitat. Be part of this vital conservation project which through research and education aims to protect and preserve the elephant populations
You’ll work alongside scientists and conservationists, tracking and monitoring the abundant wildlife and you’ll spend time with local villagers learning about the challenges they face and together seeking solutions.
What did previous participants think?
“The track opened up to vast grasslands where a herd of up to thirty elephants were grazing just before nightfall. It was truly magical to watch. All of the staff was extremely hospitable, encouraging and kind. I would like to say a huge thank you! I will miss the serenity and lushness of this special place! I will definitely return sometime in the future” Jasmine from NSW
Where will I stay?
On a hilltop with incredible lake and mountain views, the project field house is basic and rustic but spacious and comfortable. Participants sleep in single-gender bunk rooms. Linen, mosquito nets and fans are provided and the bathrooms are western style with hot water showers. Three delicious meals a day are included so you’ll enjoy the luxury of having your breakfast, lunch and dinner prepared for you.
What will I do?
Often your day has an early start, around 7.30am with an extended lunch break in the heat of the day, then back to it until early evening
A wide range of individual activities are designed to achieve long term, sustainable harmony between elephants and humans in the area, and you’ll be involved in many or most of them whilst you’re here. You’ll receive in-depth training so you can hit the ground running, learning all about field techniques before you head out. The field activities include:
- Tank Monitoring: Tanks are reservoirs for water storage...and elephants love them !! We visit tanks outside the National Park border in search of elephants or evidence of their recent visits (ie dung). At certain times of year we take to the water by canoe to observe elephants and to gather data.
- Trail Transects: Involving hikes of up to 12kms, we’ll record the presence of dung and footprints alongside the trail. An important activity, this helps build a picture of elephant populations and movements outside the national park. Caution: During transects there is always the possibility of meeting elephants
- Elephant ID: We travel in search of elephants and other wildlife, then observe and photograph them. Elephant ID data sheets are completed, the elephants identifiable by their individual physical characteristics. Through this activity we build up a catalogue of individuals and are better able to record specific movements and behaviours.
- Canopy Hide: Spend an evening in a tree hut located in an elephant corridor – leave your fear of heights at home !! We record data on elephant movements in the area and details of how the villagers and elephants interact.
- Mammal and Bird Surveys: Elephants are not the only wildlife here – the area is species rich, with leopards and sloth bears among a long list of residents! You will help to conduct surveys to develop species records of mammals and birds found in the area to assess their conservation status. You’ll help to set sand traps to identify species by their footprints, and check scat and pellets for their contents. Bird watching is done early in the morning and at dusk as these are the times birds are most active.
- Electric Fence Monitoring & Repair: On foot, walking up to 9 kms we check the state of the solar powered electric fences erected to stop elephants from entering villages - you will help repair the fences where necessary.
- Environmental Education: In the local public schools, volunteers will work with instructors to teach local rural children about environmental issues and how they can help to address them.
- Data Entry: The team will spend time at the camp/field house entering the data that has been collected in the week prior and help in initial analysis. Volunteers will be expected to present a short update of results of the work they have done before their departure.
How do I apply?
If you're interested and want some more info or to apply to this program, chuck in your details below or download the info pack and someone will be in touch to help you out!