July August Volunteers in Action in the Field

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“It’s been an incredible experience for me here with the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society (SLWCS), looking at mitigating the conflict between the villagers (and many villages) and elephants. It’s an incredible experience to see the work that is being done to help the communities understand the importance of these amazing animals and at the same time helping them live and cultivate on the land they have, without it being destroyed by the elephants.” Tara Benson, United Kingdom

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Alicia Chadwick
Volunteer Coordinator
SLWCS

This is a short summary of the activities our volunteers have been doing during the last week of July and the first week of August.

Monday July 29th 2019
Volunteers: Alex, Kate, Ludovica, Vittoria, and Julian

Morning – Volunteers conducted dung analysis in Goda-Ulpotha along a different patty. This is the final analysis for this area for a while. 2-4 day old dung, and much of it. One had cloth and plastic in it.

Afternoon – All volunteers (Including Jamie, Frances, Michelle, Paul, Toby and Ruari)

Went to Weheragala tank and saw about 4 elephants near the forest edge. After moving closer there were over 25 in the valley! 3 wandered within 10 metres of the Land Rovers.

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Tuesday July 30th 2019

Team 1 Volunteers: Alex, Kate, Tara, Ludovica, Vittoria, Julian, Jamie, Frances, Michelle, Paul, Toby and Ruari

Morning – All volunteers conducted a pugmark survey along Akkrakala. Had a team in the canal and a team on the road. Many pugmarks, with the volunteers switching responsibility of the data sheet, GPS, and recording measurements.

Afternoon – To Weheregala tank moving into Goda-Ulpotha with a few elephants on either side. Waited at Weheragala after the elephants left. Saw 8 just as we were leaving the tank.

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Wednesday July 31st 2019

Team 1 Volunteers: Alex, Kate, Ludovica, Vittoria, Julian, Michelle, Paul, Toby and Ruari.

Morning – Butterfly garden and orange tree preparation. Morning was very hot. Everyone moved to helping the kids planting orange trees. Productive morning.

Team 2 Volunteers: Tara, Jamie and Frances.

Ruvini took volunteers to help with her surveys of the Mahaweli River.

Afternoon – All volunteers went to the Weheragala Tank. Several elephants at Weheragala. Three of them were playing in the water and swimming, spraying and rolling under water. 1 male in musth.

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Thursday August 1st

Morning

Volunteer Team 1: Kate, Ludovica, Vittoria, Tara, Jamie and Frances

Fence Monitoring Weheragala North. Very well monitored aside from one post being knocked down with elephant prints along fence line. Fixed the fence.

Volunteer Team 2: Alex, Julian, Michelle, Paul, Toby and Ruari

Fence Monitoring Weheragala South. Some leaning posts, but propped back up and fairly well maintained.

Afternoon

All the volunteers went to the tree huts, no elephants were observed.

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Friday August 2nd 2019

Volunteers: Alex, Kate, Tara, Ludovica, Vittoria, Julian, Jamie, Frances, Michelle, Paul, Toby and Ruari

Morning – All volunteers went to Karu Forest to check camera and sand traps. Many Jungle fowl and Wild boar footprints in the sand traps. Came back to the field house and looked through the SD cards. Some Wild boar, mongooses, and deer were captured by the cameras.

Volunteers: Kate, Michelle, Paul, Toby and Ruari

Afternoon – Elephant observation at Weheragala Tank. Saw a small family at the back end of the water.

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Monday 5th August 2019

Volunteers: Paul, Michelle, Ruari, Toby, Frances, Jamie and Scott

Morning – Volunteers morning activity was clearing the butterfly garden. Many large invasive trees known as Ipil Ipil (Leucaena leucocephala) were chopped down and lots of land cleared. Helpful having 3 big men there!

Afternoon – Volunteers saw many elephants at Weheragala Tank. Big group of at least 20. Stayed a bit longer at that location as some elephants surrounded the vehicles.

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Tuesday 6th August 2019

Volunteers: Paul, Michelle, Ruari, Toby, Frances, Jamie, Scott, Todd, Lily, Anna and Chris

Morning – All volunteers went to work on Project Orange Elephant to plant some new orange trees at a farm in Himbiliyakada. We planted 30 new trees which the farmer was very thankful for.

Volunteer Team 1: Paul, Ruari and Toby

Afternoon – It is Toby’s birthday today, he decided to go fishing with Siriya as a treat. Had a great time and caught some fish!

Volunteer Team 2: Michelle, Frances, Jamie, Scott, Todd, Lily, Anna and Chris

Afternoon – Went to Weheragala Tank and saw at least 30 elephants to start with. The cars scared them off a bit, but some came back. Went to Goda- Ulpotha

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Wednesday 7th August 2019

Volunteer Team 1: Paul, Michelle, Ruari, Toby, Frances, Jamie

Morning – Dung analysis in Goda-Ulpotha. One piece of dung had a plastic bag in it. Very fresh or a few days old.

Volunteer Team 2: Scott, Todd, Lily, Anna and Chris

Morning – Dung analysis in another region of Goda-Ulpotha. Again, a lot of fresh and day old dung.

All Volunteer

Afternoon – 24 elephants at Weheragala Tank. All in good health condition with a few infants and juveniles. One male came at 5 pm with a broken leg and a big limp.

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Thursday 8th August 2019

Volunteer Team 1: Paul, Michelle, Ruari, Toby, Frances, Jamie

Morning – Pugmark analysis along old crop fields near the field house. 6 pugmarks were sighted. The ground was very dry so they were difficult to find.

Volunteer Team 2: Scott, Todd, Lily, Anna and Chris

Morning – Pugmark analysis along old crop fields near the field house. A lot of pugmarks were observed.

All Volunteers

Afternoon – Again, many elephants at Weheragala Tank. Some juvenile and infants too. Two big bulls had a fight not for from the jeeps. One of the males approached the jeep only 5 metres away. Vije asked him calmly to ‘go away’ and he did. It was amazing!

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Friday 9th August 2019

Volunteer Team 1: Paul, Michelle, Ruari, Toby, Frances, Jamie

Morning – Fence monitoring in Hebilyalagoda. Monitored the whole fence. Saw a few loose posts and termite covered posts which were removed.

Volunteer Team 2: Scott, Todd, Lily, Anna, Chris and the German tourists couple: Dorothea & Tobias

Morning – Fence monitoring along Guruwelayaya next to the Mahaweli River. Many fence posts had termites but they were removed.

All Volunteers

Afternoon – One large male in Weheragala Tank. The same one from Wednesday with a limp and broken leg. He came very close again today. A skinny elephant with a gunshot wound was also spotted. Chandima explained she is old and unwell.

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For information on the SLWCS Volunteer Program please visit: https://www.slwcs.org/volunteer

SLWCS Staff and Volunteer shirts sponsored by elephantea

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Big, rumbling thanks to our Corporate Partners for their kind support and to everyone who has donated and supported our wildlife conservation efforts!
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Photo Credits:

Alicia Chadwick/SLWCS
Ravi Corea/SLWCS

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