ELEPHANT AND WILDLIFE CONSERVATION IN WASGAMUWA
NATIONAL PARK IN SRI LANKA
Help conserve the Elephants and other wildlife of Sri Lanka in Wasgamuwa National Park.
The main aim
of thise project is to "save elephants, other biodiversity and
their habitats by helping people". If you
want to go back to the very basics, in a stunningly beautiful part of
the world, helping local people and the local wildlife this project is
perfect for you.
You’ll do work that is really valued and that
makes a significant difference to people’s lives.
And the location is
The activities on this project are diverse - one moment you could be observing elephants
overnight in a tree-house, and the next you could be helping to reduce
human-elephant conflict within the national park.
start on the 1st and 3rd Monday of each month. You
should arrive in Sri Lanka on the Sunday before your
chosen start date.
2 weeks up to 3
months, subject to visa restrictions.
No qualifications or experience required, but you
will need to be reasonably fit as you will walk or cycle
up to 10-15 km each day over rugged terrain – in the
heat this can be very tiring!
Minimum age 18.
►Full pre-departure support and assistance,
►Payment Protection insurance
►Meeting you at Colombo airport
►Transfer to your accommodation
►Transport to and from your project
►Local in-country team support and backup
►24-hr emergency support.
►Certificate of Completion
What's not included
Insurance, Cost of Visas (if a visa is required), Sunday
and Saturday night accommodation in Colombo, Return
transfer to airport.
Who can do
is open to all nationalities and all ages over 18.
Suitable for gap years or those taking a year out,
grown-up gappers, career breakers, anyone interested in
conservation and caring for animals and working with
Suitable if you want to learn about rescue and
rehabilitation of wildlife and doing
voluntary work with elephants, projects abroad or study
May also be suitable for university credit or
Also available as a summer placement or a short break
WHAT YOU'LL GAIN FROM DOING THIS PROJECT:
An exciting, never-to-be-forgotten adventure into Asia and the
fascinating culture of Sri Lanka
The enormous satisfaction of helping
conserve elephants and wildlife and
knowing that you made a difference.
New skills, more confidence, a greater understanding
of a different culture, invaluable personal and professional
An entry on your CV or résumé that will put you head
and shoulders above most others in the job market.
WORK CONTENT: The work you can get involved in is diverse and fascinating.
It also covers a broad range of elements and activities. You’ll be
conducting all the work yourself, but will, of course, have the
supervision and guidance of either the project researcher or his
monitor the ‘elealert’ electric fence.
This fence greatly reduces the human-elephant conflict in the area as it
protects the locals’ farmland, which is their livelihood. The elephants
are kept out by the electric fences and are in turn, protected themselves (as
they are not ruining the local populations livelihood, the locals have no
reason to attack and hurt the elephants.)
The project has
a broad scope and volunteers will help out in any of the research projects
and operational needs summarized below to accomplish the objectives of the
Society. Not all these activities will be available at one time – you’ll
likely be involved in several, or a selection, depending on the needs of
the conservation society we work with. Below is a list of the current
activities, but some of these can change depending on what is required at
the you’re there and on other factors, such as the weather:
the elephants bathe) monitoring
Trail transects (a hike to
identify if elephants have been in the area) on the trails that range from
5-10 kilometres on undulating to steep terrain.
Road transects outside
(buffer zone) of the national park.
Park ID - identification
of elephants within the park
Fence monitoring - in both
Pussellayaya and Weheragalagama
Observations of elephants
from tree hut and at tanks.
Identification of trails which predators /
prey species use
Analysis of GIS data from all other research
SOCIO-ECONOMIC AND AGRO/SOCIAL FORESTRY
Village Headman (GND) Surveys
HEC (Human-Elephant Conflict) assessment surveys
Project Orange Elephant (alternative crops
project that is providing locals with oranges to farm as well as their usual
crops. Elephants do not eat citrus fruits, so even if the farmland was
destroyed by elephants the livelihood of the locals would not be ruined as
they still have the oranges to sell.
FARMING & AGRICULTURE
Data on farming operations (such as number of
eggs produced, milk production, health issues, paddy/fruit production)
OPERATIONS AND BASIC HOUSEKEEPING
Cleaning and maintenance of vehicles,
bicycles and other equipment
Clearing / Cleaning of field bases and
Packing / Storing and Stock taking of all
equipment before departure of groups of volunteers / at least every two
is vigorous and also mentally challenging at times, due to the warm
and humid climatic conditions (especially in summer) - but it is
extremely satisfying and rewarding! There can be a lot of physical
activity involved in the project, you may be walking up to 10 kilometres a
day and / or cycling up to 15 kilometres a day!
PROJECT START AND FINISH DATES The project starts on the first and third Monday
of each month throughout the year. You should arrive at Colombo
Airport on the Sunday before your chosen start date. You'll be
picked up at the airport and taken to your accommodation for the
night. Please note your accommodation for this night is not
included in the project cost and you will have to arrange this
yourself (we can assist you with this). The following morning
you'll be picked up by the Wasgamuwa team bright and early
(around 6am) and taken to your project.
For your first night in Colombo,
the project recommends the Hotel Shalimar, a 3 star hotel with
reasonable pricing roughly 20 km from Colombo International
Airport It offers air-conditioned rooms with free Wi-Fi, 24-hour
front desk, a restaurant and bar. If you wish to find your own
accommodation, please note you will have to make your own way to
the Fort Railway Station in Colombo by a 6 am on the Monday.
Return transfers from Wasgamuwa to
Colombo are arranged on Saturdays. We advise spending the night
in Colombo then flying out on Sunday or continue on with your
REQUIREMENTS: CAN YOU DO THIS PROJECT?
You don't need any qualifications to
participate in this project.
You will need to be reasonably fit as you will walk or cycle up to 10-15
km each day over rugged terrain – in the heat this can be very tiring!
Minimum age 18.
Please bear in mind that this project is suitable for those people who enjoy reading and solitude as there is
nothing to do in the evenings except socialise with the other volunteers!
BUT, if you want to gain an excellent
cultural experience that is worthwhile and gives you much, much more than
you'd get as a mere tourist, then this is an excellent placement.
interview with innovative thinkers in Sri Lanka today who are
working towards creating a balance between human development and
elephant survival with untraditional methods and sensitive thinking.
WHAT THE PROJECT GAINS FROM YOUR VOLUNTEERING: "The volunteer program is an
integral component of the sustainable initiatives we are implementing in Sri
Lanka. There has been a completely new economic development at the local
level just based on the volunteer program. You can observe this in the
growth and development of so many of the local stakeholders who are directly
and indirectly benefiting from the program. Even for the Wasgamuwa National
Park we provide their biggest revenue. We hope to initiate a study just to
assess the economic impact of the volunteer program at Wasgamuwa.”
Ravi Corea, President and Founder.
Elephant and Wildlife Conservation in
Volunteer sitting in a hide to observe animals
You'll live in a remote village called Pussellayaya on the outskirts of the
National Park, located around 7 hours east of Colombo. The community is mostly dependant on paddy farming for its livelihood
and as such the way of life here is very simple - you'll need to be prepared
to 'get back to basics' and to live like the villagers.
The Wasgamuwa house
is very basic indeed! The makeup of the house is the first thing you notice. You really do feel like you are in the wilderness!
The house is very open to the outdoors, but don’t worry - the makeup of the
house is perfectly sufficient and the openness keeps the house cool during the hot spells of
the day and dry during the storm.
The house has five bedrooms, you may
have your own room bu,t dependent on the number of volunteers, you are likely to
share with at least one other volunteer. There are mosquito
nets, a fully functional bathroom
with a shower (cold water only), a sink and a Western style toilet. The
accommodation has recently been modernised and there is now electricity, fans
and Wi-Fi internet!
It's also possible that you may stay in a another
field site near to the Wasgamuwa National Park, depending on the number of
volunteers on the project and your activities and research - this would usually
only be for a limited time.
Food: Your food will be freshly cooked
by the house caretaker and his wife. Neither of them speak very much English but
a smile goes a long way! They are both lovely and love looking after you! The
food is basic but delicious! The food usually consists of vegetarian curries,
which are made milder than they would for themselves – but there is still a kick
There is also a shop about 5 minutes away from the field house, where
you can stock up on snacks and cold drinks for your sugar fix! There is a fridge
in the house, which can be used to store all your food.
Transport: Transport will be in the form of a jeep, bicycle
or by foot.
means that bicycles are
essential as the main form of transport.
Buses run from the region to Kandy,
Dambulla and Colombo – taking approximately 5 to 9 hours. Buses run more
frequently to Hettipola, which is the nearest town, located about 45 minutes
away from the site.
There are two 3-star hotels about 10-15 minutes bike ride
away, one serving excellent Chinese food and the other having a nice pool and
bar for some very welcome chilled drinks after a hot days work!
Please bear in mind that Wasgamuwa is remote
and the house is open to nature. This project should only be undertaken by
people who like solitude, wildlife and living in jungle-like surroundings, and
are able to live with minimal creature comforts. You are welcome to bring
your Laptop with you as the field house has
electricity and quite good wireless Internet connectivity.You'll
be able to stay in
contact with your friends and family.
ABOUT WASGAMUWA NATIONAL PARK:
The location is amazing, with breathtaking scenery and wildlife set
in the remote hinterland of the island, given the accolade – by
natives – as the most beautiful part of Sri Lanka. This placement is
ideal if you enjoy wildlife and the outdoors - there is plenty to
keep you occupied in this beautiful region. The surrounding jungles
and villages can be explored easily by foot or bike and trips to
other parks in the region can be arranged.
This beautiful and untamed region is full of photo opportunities - outstanding
rivers, lakes and wildlife that make for a photographer's paradise.
There is no other entertainment, thus you'll enjoy serenity and
spending time alone.
The Maduru Oya National Park, which is
about an hour away by jeep, is renowned for its Elephant population
and Elephant sightings during an organised safari are very common -
the amount of wildlife in this area of Sri Lanka is just incredible!
This is a remote area with very basic facilities but will
give you a true Sri Lankan experience.
This project is run by one of
Sri Lanka's top Conservation Societies and is
enormously beneficial to the local people and environment.
They have won the United Nations Development program's
prestigious Equator Prize. The Award
honours community-based projects
that represent outstanding efforts to reduce poverty through
conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.
The teaching project in Wasgamuwa was
initiated as a way
of reducing the human-elephant conflict in the region. Through community
aims to resolve this conflict over the coming years. The
on-going goal is to increase the level of English amongst villagers.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN
YOU BOOK YOUR PLACEMENT:
Once you have applied for a placement, we'll
contact you and send you our Welcome Pack. You'll also receive Log-on
details and password for our Volunteer Extranet where you'll have
access to all the documentation and information which we've put
together to facilitate preparations for your adventure! Your
Project Co-ordinator for your country will liaise with you
throughout the arrangements process, as well as while you're on
your placement and on your return home.
The documents you'll have access to also include a Country
Factfile, Safety Guide and any manuals that may assist you on
your particular program (e.g. Teaching Guide, Sports Manuals, Enrichment
Suggestions for Animal Care, etc.). We do all we
can to make your stay one that you'll never forget. This is a truly awesome, elegant and beautiful country.
As with all our destinations, the culture and heritage is
different to what you're used to ... which, although one of the
most exciting aspects of travelling, should be borne in
Self-reliance and independence are highly appreciated in
all our destinations and will help you to make the most of this
On Arrival, your Introduction to the Country: When you arrive you will be welcomed by a member of our Sri
Lankan staff who
will take you to your accommodation and introduce you to everyone. During your first few days you'll be given an induction so that you can learn
about the country and its culture, as well as other useful information, like how
to use the transport system, banks, safety issues, tipping, and lots more.
You will have weekends free and this will also allow some time for travelling
and sight seeing.
The first project in Wasgamuwa, a village in
the Central Province over a decade ago,
was the “Saving Elephants by Helping
People” (SEHP) project, which fence elephants OUT of villages rather than IN
reserves, using solar powered electric fencing.
long-term goals for this
To generate a list
of the plant and animal species of the region.
Human & economic
development - so that some of these villagers can participate in the field &
ecotourism projects as well take the message of conservation to other
Field research -
using suitably trained local people with the guidance of scientists and
This project still remains the most
successful participatory HEC resolution program in Sri Lanka today. The
communities are still working together to maintain their fences. Unfortunately,
due to the security situation in Sri Lanka, the number of international
volunteers has declined drastically, so sadly the main field
research site at Wasgamuwa operates on a skeleton staff. The locally trained
Field Scouts have continued to collect data on the fences, HEC, and socio
Through this important research
it was discovered that elephant raids have reduced by 100% in some areas,
and approximately 7 hours per day of farmers time has been saved, and Rs.5,500
(approx $50) per annum saved from not having to purchase paraphernalia to chase
away crop raising elephants, as well as saving thousands of rupees previously
spent on repairs to property damaged by elephants.
The Project is also keen to
continue the good work in the area by carrying out the Habitat Enrichment
Project (HEP), as an additional means of deterring elephants and alleviating
poverty, by planting citrus and other crops varieties that are known to be not
preferred by elephants.
SHORT TERM (STAGE 1): Delivering 3-4
month intensive courses in spoken English.These will mostly be to young people in the villages
surrounding our project site close to Wasgomuwa National Park.
The English training will
include some outdoor classroom activities and inculcation of natural history and
nature conservation values. To foster this SLWCS will provide some training by
local wildlife experts and you will then dispense this
knowledge in their classes. The villagers are aware that they
will benefit from their participating in that they
will increase their knowledge and skills. As a result
of our volunteers' teaching, the villagers will also be the recruitment
base for the Wildlife Conservation Society's field
researcher positions and in the future they will have
opportunities to increase their incomes by working as nature guides (see
some of the locals who attend
the classes will be used by some of our volunteers in
the morning to visit surrounding villages and conduct intensive qualitative and
quantitative socioeconomic evaluations. Volunteers may
also provide intensive English reading and writing skills to interested
individuals in the mornings. These efforts will support the
Society's goal of human development, which will lead to the added
potential for economic development.
In too many cases, environmental fieldwork and data collecting is
carried out by non-locals
(and to a great extent non-nationals) who spend some time in the area, get their
data and leave. Generally the locals do not benefit from such exercises except
in providing labour for carrying equipment and
guiding. To rectify this, a Village Field Scouts
Program is being initiated and all the villagers
will be invited to participate in the classes conducted by Travellers
volunteers. Our volunteers will teach basic spoken
English, combined with natural history of local fauna and flora.
For Stage 2,
Travellers Worldwide volunteers with a
background in Biological Sciences and fieldwork
experience will conduct an intensive 2-month course in general fieldwork
techniques and use of field equipment. The villagers will also be taught
some basic data analysis and computer skills. At the end of the 2-month session
a test will be held to select the most promising candidates for the Field Scouts
Program. They will be selected on the basis of their
knowledge and ability to work in the jungle and for their skills at reading,
writing and operating field equipment. These selected individuals will undergo
further training under the guidance of Travellers biological science
graduate volunteers and Sri Lankan experts on how to collect data in the field.
This program is ongoing and provides a real opportunity to make a real difference to the local community and
to individual Sri Lankans.
While on your placements, you can also book some Optional
Add-Ons to make the most of your Travel Experience.
project can also be combined with any of our other projects in Sri Lanka, or
you could even do a second project in a different region of the country, thus
doubling your adventure and enjoyment!
LOCATION, EXPLORING AND SIGHTSEEING:
About the Local
Wasgamuwa Area: There is a lot to do and see if you enjoy wildlife and the outdoors.
The Maduru Oya National Park is also about an hour away by car. This park is
renowned for its wild elephant population. The surrounding jungles and villages
can be explored easily by foot or bike. Sri Lanka’s longest river is about 20
minutes away and tubing (travelling a few kilometres down it in an inner-tube) is safe
and great fun - except during the rainy season!
Sigiriya, Polannaruwa, Nuwera
Eliya, Dambulla and Kalkudah Beach are all about 3-4 hours bus ride away.
To cool off, you can hire a van and go to the
Knuckles Range which, at 5,000
feet, is much cooler! It is about 70 minutes away with beautiful areas to hike
and plenty of cool streams to bathe in. The temperature drops to a comfortable
20-28 degrees at this altitude. The Field staff at the project will be able to
help you plan any trips you want to take. They have a wealth of knowledge on the
local area and Sri Lanka in general.
The rest of Sri Lanka is a
tropical paradise offering something to suit every type of visitor. Sri Lanka is
often referred to as a 'Teardrop in the Ocean' - a beautiful island with a
mystical past and history awaiting exploration.
The tea plantations are a must, the lace making,
monuments and architectural splendours, etc., but the most appealing is the Elephant
Orphanage at Pinnawala. Not to be
missed! It's an
emotive sight that you'll never forget!
SRI LANKA'S FANTASTIC BEACHES!
Sri Lanka has miles and
miles of amazing beaches. Some of our favourites are:
MIRISSA: Perhaps a
contender for the most beautiful beach in the world. Long,
deserted and hot. You know you have got away from it all as you
sit and watch the sunset over this horizon…The snorkelling is
also incredible here.
NEGOMBO: To the north
of Colombo lies Negombo, a busting fishing town with golden
beaches and a pallet of colour provided by sails and boats
against the deep blue of the ocean.
UNAWATUNA: A sleepy
peaceful cove with deep still water and a temple overlooking the
bay from the protecting cliffs.
HIKKADUWA: A long
stretch of beach with plenty of hostels, restaurants and some
nice bars, not forgetting the impromptu beach parties held on
the beach front bars blaring Bob Marley, Eric Clapton, Led
Zeplin and many other classics! Sri Lanka is a conservative
island brimming with culture and Hikkaduwa offers an exciting
opportunity to vacation for the odd celebratory weekend! Many a
volunteer birthday has been seen in over Hikkaduwa cocktails.
You can also body board and even surf on this beach.
ARUGAM BAY: This tiny
fishing village is Sri Lanka’s newest hot spot and hosts the
best surfing and an easy going happy party atmosphere. With its
wide sweeping beach in front of the village and year round
gorgeous swimming it is no surprise that this bay has developed
into a low budget travellers haunt.
"Thank you for the experience you gave me, it was stunning and a
memory that always always always
brings me warmth" Tim Hancock
ADRENALIN JAUNTS: White Water Rafting:Sri Lanka’s boulder stream rivers are
the ideal setting for white water rafting. This is the best way
to see the stunning environment what this region has to offer.
Many tours are available and many begin with days of action,
rafting the white waters. This high adventure is suitable for
fish time ‘go for it’ rafters and experts alike. Rafting
has become a very popular exciting yet safe adventure sport
Rock Climbing and Mountaineering:
Mountaineering is an adventure sport that requires skills and
levels of fitness that few other adventure sports can match. The
mountain ranges in Sri Lanka offer breath taking, enthralling,
climbing routes. Climbing is all about discovering the natural
world around and with you.
Hiking and Trekking: There’s no better
way to explore the natural scenic beauty of this island with
diverse climatic zones. Trekking is an excellent way to explore
a country, people, their traditions and beliefs. Paths and
campsites have been set up to give nature lovers the experience
of a lifetime. All possible steps are taken to ensure local
community benefit and nature conservation in keeping with all
international camping guidelines.
Canoeing & Kayaking: This relatively
new sport is rated as the most adventurous of all adventure
sports. It involves descending a stream as it drops over
waterfalls and boulders. In Sri Lanka they have low waterfalls
for beginners and some as high as 700 feet for the very
experienced - all surrounded by breathtaking scenery.
Climate: The driest and best seasons are from December to March on
the west and south coasts and in the hill country, and from May
to September on the east coast. December to March is also the
time when most foreign tourists come, the majority of them
escaping the European winter.
The coastal stretch
south of Colombo offers palm-lined sandy expanses as far as the
eye can see. The Kandyan dances, a procession of elephants or
the masked devil dances. Then there are the ruins, ancient and
inspiring architecture in the cities of Anuradhapura and
Polonnaruwa to satisfy any archaeologist.
TRAVEL: To read about Travel arrangements and what happens when you
arrive in your new country, please
Support & Backup:
To read about the excellentSupport
& Backup we provide before you leave and during
please click here.
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