September Volunteers in Action in the Field

"The Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society is outstanding to say the least. My experience here in Wasgamuwa has been amazing. A lover of elephants m

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"The Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society is outstanding to say the least. My experience here in Wasgamuwa has been amazing. A lover of elephants my whole life, this opportunity has finally provided me with the ultimate satisfaction of enjoying wild elephants in their natural habitat. I felt like I needed to give back to elephants since I tell everyone I love them so much. SLWCS gave me a fulfilment to that goal." Kyle Brian, U.S.A.

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Alicia Chadwick
Volunteer Coordinator
SLWCS

Tuesday, September 3rd 2019

Morning

Team: David, Antonia, Beate and Julia

First activity was checking and resetting the sand traps. Volunteers' had a great time seeing sloth bear, wild boar and even leopard prints in the sand traps

Afternoon

Team: All Volunteers.

One adult male elephant was spotted at Weheragala Tank at 17.51. The families must have moved on! We will monitor this area for the rest of the week.

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Thursday, September 5th

Morning

Team 1: David, Antonia, Beate and Carley

Worked on POE at Pussellayaya. Over 90 plants to weed and create condition reports. Very tough for only 4 volunteers. Most plants were in very good condition. Some volunteers cooled off in the lake.

Afternoon

Team: All Volunteers

All the volunteers went to the National Park. Some elephants came very close to the vehicles, as well as a family group towards the end of the safari.

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Friday, September 6th

Morning

Team: David, Antonia, Beate and Carley

Fence monitoring at Weheragala. It was a very hot day so we took our time including many water breaks. Some recent elephant activity noted, while also smelling the musky odor of an elephant in musth! Elephants were close at one point so we moved quickly past them.

Afternoon

Team: All Volunteers

Observations at the Weheragala Tank, where there were 2 males bathing in the tank. A family of elephants came out near Goda-ulpatha at 16.30 with at least 30 elephants.

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Monday, September 9th

Morning

Team: Beate and Shanae

Re-potting grafted orange plants. We re-potted over 30 plants with the staff and two volunteers. It was a very hot morning with watermelon juice as a refreshment.

Afternoon

Team: All Volunteers

At Weheragala Tank there was a family of 9, and two individual males. A van of Sri Lankans playing loud music came by and drove right up to the elephants, scaring them away.

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Tuesday, September 10th

Morning

Team: Beate and Shanae

Dung analysis at Weheragala Tank. Because there has been a lot of activity in the area, we wanted to analyse their health. Twenty five percent of 20 piles of dung had plastic in it, showing that they’re feeding at the trash site.

Afternoon

Team: All Volunteers

At Weheragala Tank there was around 30 elephants, but slightly out of view. However, some adults came to the water eventually.

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Plastic and glass in elephant dung.

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Wednesday, September 11th

Morning

Team: Beate and Shanae

Pugmark analysis in the paddy fields. Because of the lack of rain, it was difficult to spot prints. This being said, we did find 6 prints and identified them as jungle cats (Felis chaus).

Afternoon

Team: All Volunteers

It was a slow start to elephant observation today, however after driving through Goda-ulpatha and Madupitya we finally spotted one near the tree hut forest. A bachelor group of 4 males made their way across the water to the other side of Weheragala Tank.

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Thursday, September 12th

Morning

Team: Beate (Shanae stayed home in the morning as she had some news from home she had to deal with.)

This morning because we only had one volunteer we changed the SD cards in the forest (with Beart staying in the vehicle when it was too dangerous). It was an exciting morning.

Afternoon

Team: Beate & Shanae

At Madupitiya there were about 20 elephants which were coming close to the jeeps. At 5 pm there was a very close bang probably from a thunder flash which scared the elephants away. We waited at the Tree Hut forest and they came by nice and close again! Great afternoon.

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Friday, September 13th

Morning

Team: Beate and Shanae

This mornings activity was fence monitoring on the other side of Weheragala. It was a very steep hike where the volunteers found it hard. However we finished as a team and were very proud.

Afternoon

Team: Team: Beate and Shanae

Elephant observation in Weheragala Tank. It started raining very hard at about 5pm. From there we spotted a group at the other side of the lake and headed over to watch them roll and slide in the mud!

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Monday, September 23rd

Morning

Team: Gary and Petra

This morning volunteers and staff cleared trees in the butterfly garden. The area is looking great and we can probably start planting trees soon.

Afternoon

Team: Gary, Petra & Jennifer (arrived in afternoon)

It started to rain just as we were leaving for elephant observation. No elephants were observed despite waiting for them.

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Tuesday, September 24th

Morning

Team: Gary, Petra and Jenny

Pug mark survey in Meda Ela. Because of the rain last night there were some good prints to measure. Back at the field house, a truck of 2500 orange plants arrived. Staff and volunteers unloaded them all before lunch.

Afternoon

Team: All Volunteers

Volunteers went on the Ele-Bus as it is likely there will be no elephants again in the evening. Another load of 2500 orange trees is coming so instead of observation, everyone is needed to help to finish unloading before sundown.

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Wednesday, September 25th

Morning

Team: Gary, Petra and Jenny

Dung analysis was conducted in Naminigama which hadn’t been analysed for a while. There were a lot of footprints however not much dung. We also smelled an elephant and moved quickly through the area.

Afternoon

Team: All Volunteers

It started raining after lunch and didn’t back off. We went out to do elephant observations, but it continued raining. No elephants were observed.

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Thursday, September 26th

Morning

Team: Gary, Petra and Jenny

Today was orange plant distribution day. Motorbikes, push bikes, scooters, tuk tuks, wheelbarrows and tractors with trailers were bought to the field house to collect orange plants. We distributed all of the 5000 orange plants.

Afternoon

Team: All Volunteers

Volunteers went to the national park. While it was not possible to observe elephants we had an exciting spotting of a leopard. These cats are so illusive and we were extremely lucky to to spot one!

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Friday, September 27th

Morning

Team: Gary, Petra and Jenny

At the start of fence monitoring in Himbiliyakada we saw elephant prints. We spoke to a local farmer who said there was one this morning by the fence. We also heard it in the forest so we moved quickly and quietly along the fence. It was well maintained.

Afternoon

Team: All Volunteers

After a week of no elephants, our hopes weren’t high going into the afternoon observation. Luckily, as soon as we arrived there was a family in the tree hut forest! One older female kept mock charging the vehicle whenever a motorbike went past. It was a very eventful observation!

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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
Chinthaka Weerasinghe/SLWCS
Ravi Corea/SLWCS

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