The Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society offers some really exciting and enjoyable programs for volunteers that directly benefit the communities we work with as well as the environment. The programs give a great overview of our efforts to develop effective measures for human elephant conflict resolution, biodiversity conservation, climate change adaptation, and sustainable livelihood development in areas, where the need for innovative sustainable development strategies are critically needed.
The people of Sri Lanka have had a long tradition of living in harmony with nature since the cultural fabric of the country is deeply imbedded in the concepts of Buddhism which advocates Ahimsa (nonviolence). The volunteer programs of the SLWCS are geared to provide these insights to visitors who participate in our projects and programs. While the Society’s research is conducted to meet rigorous scientific inquiry and it is wildlife conservation, human-elephant conflict resolution and sustainable land use efforts are based on research and adaptive management strategies, the Society’s programs offer volunteers an unique opportunity to step into the cultural milieu that make Sri Lanka so special. Through our programs volunteers not only experience the wilderness and get to contribute to field research and environmental protection in meaningful ways but also get to experience Sri Lankan culture. Your involvement will help to safe guard the wilderness and promote cultural practices that are thousands of years old.
The Society operates two beautiful field locations with board and lodging facilities and has hosted over 500 international volunteers including the United States Ambassador and Indonesian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and a State Senator from Oregon, USA. Our programs will give you an enjoyable and exciting experience and some memorable memories to take away with you.
Saving Elephants by Helping People (SEHP) Project
The SEHP is the first participatory community-based Asian elephant research and human-elephant conflict resolution project in the world. The UNDP Equator Initiative awarded the SEHP Project an Equator Prize in 2008. Volunteers will get to experience a number of field research and conservation activities to develop measures for elephant conservation, sustainable land use and to mitigate human-elephant conflicts.
The Farm Stay Program
The Farm Stay Program gives an insight to our efforts to develop sustainable land use measures based eco-agriculture principles to develop agriculture and animal husbandry practices that are compatible with sharing land with elephants. Volunteers will participate in a number of exciting on-farm and off-farm tasks. The on-farm activities range from milking cows to taking care of a wide variety of farm animals to sorting eggs for hatching and taking care of brooding hens and newly hatched chicks. The off-farm activities include making milk toffee, processing and transporting fresh milk to the collection center, visiting farmers markets, roadside produce stands and attending local festivals. You will also experience traditional agriculture activities such as plowing with buffalos, learn how rice is cultivated and home gardening.
Along with the field research activities there are several interesting wildlife conservation, social and cultural activities volunteers can participate in. Rain or shine you will be involved in some activity that provides an incredible insight into Sri Lanka’s incredible wildlife and traditional cultural practices that are thousands of years old.
Though traditional agriculture practices still prevail, most farmers practice high intensity mono-cultivations using hybrid crops that various wild animals find highly palatable. To safeguard their crops farmers set deadfalls, glue traps and snares. Volunteers will help to educate farmers how to use “Have a Heart” traps provided by SLWCS to catch the offending intruders. Once they are trapped these animals will be safely translocated to the nearby Wasgamuwa National Park where they will be released providing these animals with a new lease of life.
Learn Buddhist meditation practices such as Samatha Bhavana (Serenity meditation) and Vipassanna Bhavana (Insight meditation), learn how to cook local cuisine and how to prepare and use spices.
Our Eco-agriculture/Agri-tourism Program is an effort to promote agriculture tourism to achieve income, employment and economic stability in the rural communities we work with in Sri Lanka. By helping to promote a range of activities, services and amenities provided by rural farmers we hope to attract visitors to the area, thus providing them with an opportunity to get back to their roots while bringing economic benefits to these farmers. Some of the exciting activities you will get involved are learning to build a tree hut, how to plow with buffalos, drive a tractor, take care of farm animals, work in a rice field, visit markets and take part in local festivals.
Independent Research Volunteers and Interns
Students who need to work in a field project or conduct independent field research to fulfill their academic requirements are welcome to work at our project sites. The two field sites operated by the SLWCS are great field bases to work from. You can come up with your own research ideas that are subject to our approval. We have had international interns who have come and done their own research work, e.g. assessing parasite loads in leopard scat, GIS mapping human-elephant conflict, etc. to fulfill their master thesis work and other academic requirements. As long as you don’t have to take away samples this can be done through the SLWCS.