Saturday, October 10, 2009

CONSERVATION: Helping Conserve the Elephants and Leopards of Sri Lanka

By Mark Bottell

Wildlife conservation holidays are becoming an increasingly popular option for travellers tired of the same old beach or ski trips, or students looking for an adventure to fill their gap-year. This unique brand of ethical tourism can take you to some of the most beautiful places on Earth. It will allow you to become involved in some vital wildlife conservation work and contribute in a truly meaningful way.

These holidays are definitely hands-on and you can look forward to some hard but extremely rewarding work. Every day will be different and you could find yourself collecting important research data in the jungle one day, and mending fences or machinery another. There is a wonderful team spirit amongst the volunteers, and everyone is working towards the same goals. Some people go on to take up full-time careers in wildlife conservation and many life-long friendships are formed.

There is a range of different projects throughout the world where you can offer your services. Working as a wildlife conservation volunteer on the exotic island of Sri Lanka will enable you to experience the culture and lifestyle of the country, and assist in the research and preservation of two species of animal in particular - the Sri Lankan Elephant and a sub-species of leopard endemic to Sri Lanka. On this project you will need to be very fit as there is a lot of hiking through the jungle in order to collect data, and there is also an element of danger due to the presence of wild animals. Living conditions are basic but comfortable and you will stay in either a central house at the research station, or one of a number of cabanas dotted around the station.

Elephant Research

The Sri-Lankan Elephant is currently threatened mainly because of habitat loss due to human interference. The Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society is working towards creating and sustaining projects which concentrate on this conflict, as well as educating the local communities in solution strategies. There is a wide-spread problem with crop-raiding by the elephants, and the farmers need assistance in methods of preventing this. It is hoped they will then become more tolerant of the elephant and therefore willing to aid in conservation efforts.

Your work will be out in the field assisting more experienced researchers in the tracking and monitoring of the elephants. You will see these magnificent creatures interacting in their native habitat and collect vital information for future education programmes.

Leopard Research

While the exact number of the elusive Sri Lankan leopard is unknown, it is known that their population is decreasing. The projects on leopard research in Sri Lanka have been established for two main purposes. The first is to collect data on the density of the population in various areas, and the second is to research the effect of the human-leopard conflict. You will work as part of a team with highly skilled Field Scouts who will educate you in the methods of research, as well as teaching you about the local culture - a vital element to understanding the conflict.

You will travel to various National Parks in Sri Lanka and take part in data gathering and photographic survey work, as well as tree-hut observation work and data entry. The work with the leopards is one of the most exciting wildlife conservation projects in Sri Lanka, and to see these magnificent creatures in the wild is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Mark Bottell is the General Manager for Worldwide Experience, an online tour operator offering extended breaks focusing on wildlife conservation work and various adventurous gap years for adults.

Article Source:

No comments:

Post a Comment