January volunteers share their experiences

"I volunteered with the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society, and during the time I was there I felt incredibly at home and supported by the wonder

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"I volunteered with the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society, and during the time I was there I felt incredibly at home and supported by the wonderful local team. The amount of brilliant work they are doing is truly awe inspiring and you really get to see and experience how it impacts the local community and wildlife, I couldn't recommend this highly enough to anyone looking to really connect with the community and with a passion for the natural world. Incredible experience." Elizabeth (Bessie) Hyman, U.K.

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Chathuranga Dharmarathne
Research Scientist
SLWCS

Monday, January 27th 2020

Morning

Team 1: Helena, Abhi, and Sanela

Morning was spent on pug mark surveying, we observed several jungle cat prints near the paddy fields of Eke Ela.

Afternoon

All volunteers went to do Elephant observations at Weheragala but no elephants.

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Rosemary Kimble
USA

My experience at SLWCS was wonderful. I learned a lot about the conservation efforts of the organization. I was surprised at how much good work being done by them. They have really put so much into helping the community and the elephants to live in harmony. I would love to see this program grow to include the entire country of Sri Lanka.

I enjoyed learning about how to identify certain native wildcats based on their paw prints with the pug mark research and to see how the eating habits of elephants is observed through dung analysis. It was always special to get to visit the home of one of the villagers or farmers, to see how they live and how they are trying to keep the elephants at bay to stay safe. They were always so kind, offering us tea and snacks after our work.

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I was especially impressed by the EleFriendly Bus project and riding on the bus with the children was one of my favorite things. They are all so sweet and happy.

It was very special to see the wild elephants foraging and I feel very blessed for every time I got to see them because it does not happen at every observation.

My only complaint are the times we did work in the mid morning to clear land because it was very hot and I thought we should have done it during the early morning.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to work with your organization and for all that I learned about elephant and wildlife conservation through you. Your work is super important and I am honored that I got to be a part of it.

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Tuesday, January 28th 2020

Morning

Team 1: Abhi, Helena, Sanela, Awana and Maria

Morning activity was a very productive POE session. We visited 5 farms with a lot of plants at Medakanda . We cleared weeds around more than 150 plants. Most were in great condition and healthy.

Afternoon

All volunteers

We observed one very little elephant calf near Madupitiya area. It was a very unusual observation. We did not hear any sign of the adult elephants nearby. This calf suddenly appeared and then ran in to the forest.

According to Asi and Sarath recently an elephant calf had been caught by the DWC vets to remove a snare. It seems like the herd is not accepting the calf after it had been treated.

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Ge (Scott) Wendi
China

Overall, I am very satisfied with this volunteer project. I have spent a pleasant week here with all the other volunteers and local workers. People are all warm-hearted and always willing to help. Also, I have learned a lot in this week about elephants protection and some local culture. Food here is quite special for a Chinese. So much curry and pepper as well as plenty of black tea do add so much fun to living here.

The condition are very basic, but scenery views make all worth. Take a cup of black tea, hold a cat sleeping on my lap and sit on a chair right under a roof. When it is rainy, just listen to the sound of raindrops landing on the roof or leaves and gaze at the distant hill though the rain. When the rain stops, even the water in the lake is blue. When it is a sunny day, wind comes from the distant hill, crinkles the water in the lake, sweeps over kinds of grass and rest on the branch under the roof and on my shoulders next to my ears.

Volunteer work here very satisfying, and I am sure that what I did will actually help those elephants and I believe that the accumulation of these tiny stuff will make a big difference.

I really hope to spend more time here and I do recommend this wild elephants protection project to some of my friends who intend to do some volunteer work.

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Wednesday, January 29th 2020

Morning

Team 1: Abhi, Helena, Sanela, Awana and Maria.

We did a community project. We helped to make a new hut for the meditating monks in the Karu forest. We managed to complete the building with the help of villagers. Volunteers were very happy because they made new friends and worked together to achieve the target. Volunteers were really happy about that.

Afternoon

All volunteers We observed one elephant on the way from the morning activity. It was a huge male elephant chilling near the Weheragala forest area. We observed it for more than 15 minutes.

We observed 2 male elephants during the evening observation at the Weheragala Tank. They were playing in the water. Fishermen chased them away after a while. It was a nice evening of observing elephants.

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Adele Marchegay
France

I had the feeling to really help peoples and by the way helping elephants. The experience in the field house was unique. I never lived like that before and I even don’t knew that I could do it.

I learned about wildlife, Sri Lanka, and also myself, I met some volunteers who became my friends.

I am really thankful and I will remember all my life of this 3 weeks. The only thing I regret is to don’t speak Cinghalese and that the local village people who work with us most doesn’t speak English… It would be nice to communicate with them.

Sri Lanka is a wonderful country and population are always smiling and waving; it’s a beautiful lesson for us people from occidental country.

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Thursday, January 30th 2020

Morning

Team 1: Abhi, Helena, Sanela, Awana and Maria

This morning we did Camera trapping in the Karu Forest. We changed camera trap batteries, SD cards and checked the photos. There were a lot of nice captures including several of wild cats.

We set up our sand traps since they were all messed up due to the recent rains.

Afternoon

Team 1: Abby, , Helena, Sanela, Awana and Maria

We did not record any elephants at Madupitiya area.

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Friday, January 31st 2020

Morning

Team 1: Abhi, , Helena, Sanela, Awana and Maria

We did fence monitoring at Guruwela Yaya fence near the Mahaweli River. We observed lot of elephant activities near the fence.

Afternoon

Abhi, Helena, Maria & Awana left on their weekend trips to Trincomalee & Pasikuda.

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Elizabeth (Bessie) Hyman
England

I came to volunteer at the SLWCS for 3 weeks with no idea of the human elephant conflict in Sri Lanka and was amazed not only by the huge issues that people and elephants face but also by the amount of successful work the organization is doing to combat this. We spent some time with the local kids who come once a week and they told us about the Ele Bus which really shows that the project is tackling the root of the issues, the chance to work with and meet the local people and help them with initiatives like the orange trees was an eye opening experience, and really helped us feel connected to the community. In the afternoons the elephant monitoring provided was a much appreciated treat and watching the elephants and their baby’s in their natural habitat is truly breathtaking, and reminded me why I’m here . From weeding to fence monitoring you really get a feeling that you are doing something productive and meaningful.

The teams are wonderful, and there is always something to laugh about or a game of carom to be lost. I immediately felt at home in the field house and it was always fun to be around the other volunteers. The food is delicious and the trips in to town help supplement this. They are also incredibly helpful helping to organize weekend trips and when I was ill they drove me to the doctors helping me feel at ease here. I will miss being here and hope one day to come back and see how the current projects are coming along, and what new ideas they are implementing.

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For information on the SLWCS Volunteer Program please send inquiries to: info@slwcs.org

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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