The rich forests and grasslands of Wasgamuwa National Park in the Matale and Polonnaruwa Districts face an all too common challenge: a conflict between elephants transiting on migration paths to fresh water and the communities and farmers settled there, trying to produce a living through crop production. This is the number one conservation challenge facing Sri Lanka.
Help is on hand, however, through conservation projects such as the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society (SLWCS). Founded by Ravi Corea and run alongside conservation specialist Chandima Fernando and project lead Chinthaka, their mission is to work with the local communities that live in Wasgamuwa to learn to live in harmony with the elephants instead of pitching themselves against them.
Spending time with the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society and visiting the farms and communities who have benefitted from their support takes you further off the usual tourist trail for a more direct experience. You can see first-hand the work they do to ensure people and elephants can live harmoniously, balancing the needs of wildlife with those of the growing rural communities.
Take a step closer to SLWCS conservation with a visit to the project in Wasgamuwa National Park. During your time there you will:
Visit a rural village to observe the holistic approach to mitigate human/elephant conflicts.
Meet the farmers and learn from them how the project is helping them to avoid elephant clashes.
Help plant and harvest orange trees.
Try a traditional village lunch.
Observe elephants and other wildlife in their natural environment on a safari.
No trip to Sri Lanka is complete without visiting one of its National Parks and having the opportunity to spot wildlife roaming freely. Elephant-spotting is a major highlight and we strive to support responsible initiatives throughout Sri Lanka to preserve these dwindling herds.
In the depths of Sri Lanka’s beautiful landscapes and abundant National Parks, human-animal conflict is prevalent, as development, livelihoods and the natural environment clash and compete for attention.
The issue is particularly significant in this region due to government resettlement initiatives which do not take into account these migration routes, putting people and elephants in danger as they are forced to fight for the same space. Projects like the SLWCS are essential in the resolution.
Using a holistic approach, they educate and support community groups and farmers to adopt new practices to protect their crops, whilst allowing the elephants to roam free without danger of violence on either side. They help farmers build defences around their crops - warning fences with metal cans to deter the elephants, plant citrus fruits that elephants do not like, and educate them against using more violent methods. They even operate an Elephant friendly bus to get children to school and locals to town safely.
Their approach has been influencing similar conservation-human challenges around Sri Lanka and beyond, taking the human fencing model and applying it internationally to ensure these issues are not faced in years to come.
Combine the island’s top wildlife crowd pleasers with some magnificent hidden gems and cultural highlights before spending some time on the beach.