Elephant & wildlife conservation volunteering in Sri Lanka

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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Elephant & wildlife conservation volunteering in Sri Lanka

Environment

The Elephant and Wildlife Conservation project was established in 1995. Elephants unfortunately can cause extensive damage to crops and property so the team are researching wild elephants while working with the local community to reduce the conflict between them.

The project aims to gain understanding of the ecological requirements of local wildlife including the sloth bear, leopard, rusty-spotted cat, fishing cat, jungle cat, golden palm civet, and Sri Lankan jackal and is essential for future conservation as there is an increasing level of urban and agricultural development in the area.

Volunteers live in simple accommodation where waste is limited and recycling is encouraged. As water is a precious resources, limited use is promoted. The project base is built using local materials and local builders were employed for the project.

In order to reduce the impact of transport, the volunteer team use trains and buses to travel from the capital of Colombo to the project base.

Community

The volunteer project employs locals to support the volunteer team, assist with research and manage the volunteer accommodation. This allows great cultural immersion within the placement. Local ladies cook the volunteer meals each day which provides stable employment for their families.

Volunteers take part in weekly research interviewing villagers to document human-elephant conflict and help to identify practical solutions. When required they assist the community rebuilding buildings which have been damaged by elephants. Volunteers buy from local shops and actively support local businesses.

The project focus on educating the community on the importance of conservation and help the community to live in harmony alongside elephants and wildlife through innovative schemes.

There is mutual respect between the project and local community, volunteers are advised what culturally appropriate clothing to wear in order not to offend any members of the community. Volunteers can learn basic greetings so that they can communicate and be respectful when meeting people from the villages.

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