Photo by Kylie Butler 2Sri Lanka cropped

"It was a great learning experience; every day was a new adventure." Haley Johnson, Iowa, USA

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Two elephants crossing in front of the Land Rover

My favorite activity that we did this week was when we got the chance to see a bunch of elephants while sitting in the tree hut. It was such an amazing experience! Thea Beard, USA

If you are looking for some time spent outdoors and some off the grid living this is the spot. Enjoy your time collecting data on elephants or your time teaching school students English. A new activity daily. Erika Lampe, USA

It was amazing to see the elephants in their environment and learning more about them. The staff was very helpful with all questions that were asked. Emily Lippert, USA

It was a great learning experience; every day was a new adventure. My favorite activity was observing and seeing the wild elephants in their natural habitat. Haley Johnson, USA

The tree hut was my favorite activity because you get to see the elephants in their natural habitat. Eryn King, USA

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A shy bull elephant...

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A feeding herd approaching the parked Land Rover

The best part of my time at SLWCS has been interacting with fellow volunteers from across the world: Australia, Belgium, China, France, Portugal, The Netherlands, UK & USA. Speaking with each other to learn why we’re interested in traveling or environmental work, tying all the threads between our walks of life, has been incredibly rewarding. Whether you’re 20, 30 or 40 – whether you’re participating for school or leisure – volunteering at SLWCS in Wasgamuwa is truly rewarding because of the relationships being built whilst abroad. Thanks again, SLWCS crew!! Rob Hennings-Heathers, USA

Today we were able to take a safari through Wasgamuwa National Park. We were lucky enough to view elephant families up close. It was so amazing to see them in their natural habitat and observe their family dynamics. As volunteers we were able to assist with tracking and documenting elephants by collecting data from elephant dung and sand traps. Our group was only here for a week so it would be nice to be able to spend more time here to really feel as if we were contributing to this important project. Nicole Fitzgerald, Des Moines, Iowa, USA

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Setting up a sand trap

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Three curious water buffalo

01. DMACC Iowa University

Helping to repair a house that was broken by an elephant

03. DMACC Iowa University
04. DMACC Iowa University
06. DMACC Iowa University
05. DMACC Iowa University
07. DMACC Iowa University
09. DMACC Iowa University
08. DMACC Iowa University

Mel Sadeghpour
Iowa, USA

Although we were only able to stay for a short week, we had an amazing experience. Today was an unforgettable day. During the morning, we visited the local school and worked with high school students on their conversational English skills. They taught us about the game of cricket, and then we went outside to give it a whirl. Great fun!

During the afternoon we went on safari in Wasgamuwa National Park, which was a wildlife lover’s dream come true. We saw wild water buffalo, birds galore, sambal deer, wild boar, crocodiles, and several families of elephants. I will always remember our encounter with a family group of female elephants and their young, including a very new calf. We are so lucky to have had the opportunity to visit SLWCS, learn about their important conservation mission, and meet their amazing staff.


A large herd of water buffalo

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A mixed flock of breeding ibises, egrets and cormorants

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A newly fledged flock of black-headed ibis

Shirley (Sun Jing) & Tina (Yu Xitong)

Tina is an eight year old volunteer who came to participate in the SLWCS volunteer program for one week with her mother, Shirley. They travelled all the way from China to observe elephants in the wild. Her favourite activity was going to the local school and playing games with the children, Tina taught them how to play hangman, while also singing and dancing for them. The local children loved being with Tina and responded to her friendship by singing songs for her. Tina’s mother, Shirley thought the staff members were very friendly and she was very impressed with their approach to protecting elephants. She understood that different countries have different methods to protect wildlife, and her favourite activity was building the house that was broken by a raiding elephant. Shirley would love to come back when Tina is much older.

This was the first time Tina had ever seeing elephants and she thought they were very big!

02. DMACC Iowa University

Helping to repair to a house broken by a raiding elephant

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Tina having fun while conducting a transect in the jungle

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Checking a beehive

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Enjoying the bouncing ride on the Land Rover

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Keeping an eye out for elephants

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A not too friendly elephant

01. Tina

Playing game with local school kids

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Fun time at the local school

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Making new friends

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Distributing gifts

During our time at the SLWCS we worked on on-site consulting deliverables involving both a donor outreach letter, as well as a growth strategy for Project Orange Elephant. As part of our stay, we were given the chance to help pick oranges, visit one of the observation tree huts, and visit the National Park. It was an incredible experience getting to see Asian elephants in-person and witness their behaviour and interactions in their natural environment. Furthermore, through our activities and discussions with both staff and volunteers, we were able to learn so much about the importance of elephant conservation and mitigating human elephant conflict. The staff and volunteers at the field house were a pleasure to spend time with and truly made us feel at home.

Brandon Nguyen, Rae Peterson, Nick Lee and Jonathan Lee
University of Pennsylvania, USA

01. PIIC Team
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04. PIIC Team
03. PIIC Team
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Sampath, Ellie, Ravi, Jonathan, Brandon, Rae and Nicholas

Photo Credits:

Anjuli Swift/SLWCS
Akila Weerakoon/SLWCS
Rashika Ranasinghe/SLWCS
Ravi Corea/SLWCS
Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society

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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