The Saving Elephants by Helping People (SEHP) project of the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society (SLWCS) is one of the longest operating community-based participatory human-elephant conflict resolution projects in the world.
The SLWCS was one of the first organizations in the world to develop an integrated approach to HEC resolution, poverty alleviation and elephant conservation in Sri Lanka. While still continuing to address Human Elephant Conflict (HEC) issues, the SEHP project has evolved into a multi-pronged project consisting of ecological research, capacity building, community development and sustainable development components.
The objectives of SEHP are to develop solutions at the community level to reduce human elephant conflict by integrating science, technology and sustainable development.
“We thank WWE and all the volunteers who came to us through you for their support, which played a large part in us receiving this award.”– Ravi Corea, President, Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society
“Seeing elephants in the wild was a breathtaking and awe-inspiring experience. Helping to conserve these magnificent creatures, but also helping research human-elephant conflict was so worthwhile. I loved my time there, send me back now please!”– Jane Hemmingway, Volunteer
- To conserve and protect the Sri Lankan elephant (Elephas maximus maximus) and its habitat (especially outside the protected areas).
- To mitigate human-elephant conflicts.
- To develop solutions to resolve HEC through a better understanding of elephant ecology, biology, human needs and elephant management technology.
- To integrate community participation into project planning, implementation and management.
- To develop local capacity to erect, operate and maintain solar powered electric fences over the long term.
- To establish a sustainable community integrated HEC management program.
- To create support for sustainable wildlife conservation and protection through community development, capacity building and sustainable development.
- To develop economic incentives to support the long-term conservation of the Sri Lankan elephant and its habitat.
The total research area lies within the confines of the Central and North Central Province forests of Sri Lanka and the base camp is situated in the Pussellayaya village on a scenic hill overlooking a large tank (reservoir). The climate ranges from a low of 14oC in the wet zone mountains to a high of 34oC in the dry zone jungles, where the average temperature will be in the region of 25oC-32oC.
Expect hot and dry weather for the expedition with the occasional shower and humid day. Insects could be a problem in the night when they are attracted to the camp lights. The monsoon season (Dec-Feb) will be very wet with thundershowers throughout the day/night.
Please be prepared for basic living conditions. Wasgamuwa – the expedition base is a research station that consists of a central house with a kitchen, a small library, a dining area and a veranda. Team members will stay in rooms within the central house and also in cabanas made from local material dotted around the central house. Each cabana can accommodate two people comfortably and will share showers and toilets. Participants will pair up to share rooms, although sometimes it may be possible to cater for team members wishing to stay in single accommodation. You will be at least 4 hours from the closest internet cafe? and may have irregular mobile phone coverage in parts of the core study area.
There are some modern amenities such as showers, porcelain toilets and a finite amount of solar-generated electricity. All meals will be prepared for the team and vegetarians can be catered for. Clothes can be washed at base. Beds with mosquito netting will be provided.
As a conservation volunteer in Sri Lanka you will help and assist with the ongoing projects. As your time on the project is only relatively short in relation to length and ongoing nature of the research and community development projects you are not guaranteed to get involved in all the areas detailed.
- Unless otherwise mentioned each activity will take 3-4 hours.
- Some activities are conducted together and all details will be discussed in the field.
- All activities include data entry during the afternoons or when in the field bases due to unavoidable circumstances such as heavy rain or vehicle breakdowns, etc.
- Most activities are conducted under the leadership of trained field assistants who report to the researcher or project manager in charge.
- When we stay at the campsite there is sometimes a 1hour travel time to and from there to the field house or longer to other research sites.
- Not all the activities will be conducted throughout the year.
- We expect that all volunteers are thoroughly familiar with the contents of this document.
- Tanks monitoring.
- Trail transects on trails that range from 5-10 kilometres on undulating to steep terrain.
- Road transects outside and inside the park.
- Elephant ID-Identification of elephants in the project area.
- Fence monitoring:.
- Department of Wildlife Conservation fences.
- SLWCS Pussellayaya Fence.
- SLWCS Weheragalagama Fence.
- Observations of elephants from tree hut and at tanks.
Socio-economic Surveys And Alternative Agriculture Program Monitoring
- Elephant Damage Surveys.
- Village Headman (GND) Surveys.
- HEC and HLC assessment surveys.
- Project Orange Elephant –Citrus Plantation monitoring and evaluation.
Biodiversity Surveys (Conducted On A Need To Basis)
- Small Mammal Survey.
- General Biodiversity Surveys.
- Butterfly Study.
- Fish Study.
- Avian Study.
- Medicinal Plants.
- Data on farming operations (such as number of eggs produced, milk production, health issues, paddy/fruit and other crop production).
- Working on the operational chores of the farm such as tagging animals, cleaning, feeding, taking care of chicks, etc.
Housekeeping and General Maintenance
- Cleaning and maintenance of vehicles, bicycles and other equipment –this will be done by all staff and volunteers on a pre-arranged schedule.
- Clearing/Cleaning of field bases and equipment.
- Packing/Storing and Stock taking of all equipment before departure of groups of volunteers/at least every two months.
- Identifying game trails.
- Biodiversity mapping.
- HEC/HLC Mapping.
Analysis of GIS data from various research and conservation projects
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