Sri Lanka Wildlife Protection Society, boost to local wildlife
NEW YORK: In October 1995 a group of Sri Lankans and Americans
met at the Taprobane Sri Lanka restaurant in New York City, convened by
Conservation Biologist, Ravi Corea to incorporate the Sri Lanka Wildlife
Conservation Society (SLWCS).
It was the beginning of a Society, with a handful of founding members
and a mandate to develop a sustainable and progressive model to
contribute to the conservation efforts in Sri Lanka.
From basically a one man operation the SLWCS has grown today into an
organisation with a dynamic international board and a staff of 30 people
with several large projects in five Administrative Provinces in Sri
The Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society (www.SLWCS.org) is the
first organisation to be established outside Sri Lanka for the sole
purpose of helping to conserve and preserve the dwindling biodiversity
of Sri Lanka.
The Society is a fully incorporated non-profit, tax-exempt
organisation based in the U.S.A., and a registered voluntary social
service non-governmental organisation with the Ministry of Social
Welfare in Sri Lanka.
All SLWCS projects are done with the approval of the Department of
Wildlife Conservation, Forest Department, Tourist Board and various
other national, local and regional government authorities of Sri Lanka.
The Society helps local people who are the most affected by wildlife
and who in turn most affect wildlife. The SLWCS recognizes the fact that
if it is to effectively promote best conservation practice then it is
vital to garner local support for environmental conservation.
From very early on - in fact from the time of its inception the
Society realized that to achieve success, nature conservation needed to
be meaningful and beneficial to local stakeholders.
The biggest impact on threatened species, habitats and ecosystems
come from the people who lived adjacent to them and the reasons are
mostly due to lack of economic and livelihood opportunities.
The Society’s approach to conservation and field research is clearly
reflected in its mission, which is to enable communities to balance
ecosystem protection and economic development by pioneering a model for
To paraphrase Corea, founder and President of the Society, “long-term
conservation can only be achieved by ensuring a reasonable standard of
living for all people - sustainable economic development is imperative
for wildlife and human beings to co-exist.”
Since it was established over 30 international organizations have
funded the projects of the SLWCS with continued support provided by the
US Fish & Wildlife Service, the International Elephant Foundation,
Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund, Alexander Abraham Foundation, IUCN
Netherlands Committee, Born Free Foundation, World Women Work, and
Elephant Care International to name a few.
When the tsunami of December 2004 devastated the coasts of Sri Lanka
the SLWCS was appointed to a seven member committee by the Department of
Wildlife Conservation to conduct the first post-tsunami ecological
assessments of all the protected areas impacted by the tsunami followed
by another assessment one year after the tsunami.
Recently the Department of Wildlife Conservation commended the SLWCS
for its role in developing innovative strategies to resolve human
elephant conflicts, and requested the SLWCS to help the Department in
their efforts to resolve human-elephant conflicts for the conservation
of the Sri Lankan elephant.
Today even the Department of Wildlife Conservation in Sri Lanka is
applying concepts developed for our Saving Elephants by Helping People
project as a strategy in their efforts to resolve the increasing
The project known as Saving Elephants by Helping People has been in
operation for the past 10 years and has installed 41 Kilometers of
electric fencing since its inception.
The Society also provided the historical Somawathiya Chaitiya with an
electric fence to safeguard temple property and pilgrims from wild
elephants while making sure the normal movements of elephants were not
hindered by the fence.
A new project the Society recently initiated is Project Orange
Elephant. Through its ongoing research work it was found that elephants
do not eat nor destroy citrus trees.
Trials were conducted with the Dehiwala Zoo elephants to observe
whether elephants will selectively eat oranges when provided with a wide
selection of foods.
The trials showed that elephants were not partial to oranges nor will
they selectively eat them if other food choices are available.
The SLWCS has provided funding support to the Biodiversity and
Elephant Conservation Trust for its school environment awareness program
and to translate a book about elephants to Sinhala.
The Society helped organise as well as provided sponsorships to the
Symposium on Human Elephant Relationships and Conflicts organized by the
International Elephant Foundation and the Biodiveristy and Elephant
The symposium was held in Sri Lanka and had over 200 international
participants. Additionally the Society contributed to provide airfare to
send a veterinarian from the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage for advance
training to the USA.
Through its responsible travel and ecotourism initiatives the Society
helped Dr. Prithiviraj Fernando to develop a partnership with Biosphere
Expeditions to generate funds for his elephant research and conservation
efforts at Yala.