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A Right Royal Boost to Project Orange Elephant

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Royal College Red Cross Society Project Orange Elephant stall at the Spark '18 Exhibition

September 25th 2018 – The Royal College of Colombo Red Cross Society launches program to raise 15000 orange plants

The Royal College of Colombo is one of the oldest public schools in Sri Lanka and the Red Cross Society of the Royal College of Colombo is one of the oldest student managed philanthropic social welfare organizations in the school. Royal College of Colombo was started by Rev. Joseph Marsh as a private school in 1835 and then in 1836 established as the Colombo Academy the first government run secondary school for boys by Sir Robert Wilmot-Horton. The school founded in the British public school tradition was named the Royal College Colombo in 1881 with royal consent from Queen Victoria. Royal College is considered the leading public school in Sri Lanka and is often referred to as the “Eton of Sri Lanka.”

The Royal College Red Cross Society (RCRCS) to celebrate its 40th year and as part of its 40th year celebrative humanitarian efforts selected the Project Orange Elephant initiative of the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society to give its’ support to. The RCRCS committed to raise funds to provide 15000 orange plants to expand Project Orange Elephant to bring greater benefits to communities marginalized by human elephant conflicts. From September 25th to 29th the RCRCS conducted a stall at the school’s Spark ‘18 Exhibition to raise funds and awareness in support of POE. The POE stall has been visited by many dignitaries and cabinet ministers including the Minister for Education, Hon. Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, the Minister for Finance, Hon. Mangala Samaraweera and Minister for Lands, Hon. Gayantha Karunatileke. The RCRCS students were are expecting His Excellency President Maithripala Sirisena and Hon. Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremasinghe to attend the stall on the closing day.

The Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society is honored that such a distinguished academic institution of Sri Lanka is supporting the Society’s efforts to find sustainable solutions to mitigate human elephant conflict, which is one of the country’s biggest socioeconomic and environmental crises.

Please give your support to the stellar efforts of the Royal College of Colombo students’ efforts to protect our endangered elephants. Contact: Yukthi Napagoda at: yukthi290@live.com or send an email to: rcrcs1978@gmail.com

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SLWCS Operations Manager Chinthaka on left and President, Ravi Corea (fourth from left) with the student organizers of the POE Stall

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Minister for Education, Hon. Akila Viraj Kariyawasam visiting the POE stall. He is been greeted by RCRCS Chairman, Asane Jayakody

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SLWCS President Ravi Corea purchasing donation tickets

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Some of the items given to people who donate: POE caps and buttons

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Donation tickets

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POE Friendship Bands

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The e-Certificate that is sent to all generous donors.

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RCRCS Assistant Secretary, Yukthi Napagoda presenting Ravi with a POE cap and a Friendship Band

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Ravi discussing with Yukthi future activities of POE

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RCRCS Assistant Secretary, Yukthi Napagoda, Ravi Corea, RCRCS Chairman, Asane Jayakody & Chinthaka

September 26th 2018 – Colombo Jewellery Stores (CJS) pledges to support Project Orange Elephant.

In 2014 CJS and SLWCS partnered to launch the Unforgettable campaign of Colombo Jewellery Stores which saw the launch of the EleFriendly Bus Service and since then the high end family owned CJS has been one of SLWCS’ staunchest corporate supporters in Sri Lanka. President of the SLWCS, Ravi Corea and Operations Manager, Chinthaka met with CJS CEO Akram Cassim on September 26th and the internationally acclaimed custom jewellery manufacturer committed to fund one thousand orange plants and several water distribution systems in support of Project Orange Elephant.

During the ensuing discussions a tentative plan was made to hold a friendly cricket match between CJS and SLWCS to increase awareness about human elephant conflicts.

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At the launch of the Unforgettable Campaign: Akram, Bollywood Actress Jacqueline Fernandez & Ravi

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Akram checking out a model of the EleFriendly Bus (EleBus)

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Akram and...

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Shamilar Cassim planting orange plants during the EleBus anniversary celebrations in 2017

September 26th 2018 – Presentation on Project Orange Elephant (POE) to Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment and the Mahaweli Development Authority

SLWCS President, Ravi Corea was invited by the Secretary to the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment to make a presentation on POE to the Mahaweli Development division in the Ministry. Currently there are huge livelihood issues faced by the settlers. After several generations the available land impacted by climate change events as well as escalating human elephant conflict is causing severe hardships to the farmers of the Mahaweli Development Program.

The Project Orange Elephant was presented as a potential solution to provide these settlers with the means to develop an alternative income while minimizing the threats and livelihood challenges they experience from wild elephants. The POE concept was very well received and the Mahaweli officials agreed to continue discussions with the SLWCS to establish a pilot project in System G of the Mahaweli Development Program. System G covers the area that has been settled with farmers under the new Moragahakanda and Kaluganga hydropower and irrigation schemes.

An orange juice drink made from POE oranges was served to the attendees to the presentation.

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Presentation to the Mahaweli Development Authority

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Ravi making the presentation to the Secretary and the officials of Mahaweli

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Secretary Anura Dissnayake emphasizing the importance of adapting innovative ideas for sustainable development

September 25th 2018 – First community consultation forum organized by the Ecosystem Conservation and Management Project (ESCAMP) funded by the World Bank

The SLWCS was invited to participate in this first community consultation forum of ESCAMP. Chandima Fernando, Chinthaka Weerasinghe and Ravi Corea represented the SLWCS. The discussion was to provide an opportunity for the invited stakeholders to learn about the ongoing and future activities of ESCAMP. It was also meant for the project managers to obtain views and information from experts in the field and key stakeholders that would eventually benefit the program. These contributions would help the project managers to improve the ongoing project activities and influence project related decisions in the long-run. The participants shared their views, and insights on ESCAMP and its activities as well as their knowledge and skills to improve the activities of ESCAMP.

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Eco-Systems Conservation And Management Project (ESCAMP)

September 14th to 16th 2018 - Workshop on Ecotourism Development in the Knuckles Mountains World Heritage Site

The Knuckles Conservation Forest with multiple peaks rising about 2,500 meters above sea-level, are home to an extraordinary diversity of fauna and flora including numerous endemic species.

The Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment of Sri Lanka under the Eco-Systems Conservation and Management Project (ESCAMP) funded by the World Bank conducted a 3 day workshop in the Knuckles World Heritage Conservation Forest from September 14th to the 16th to develop an Action Plan to implement a sustainable ecotourism programme. The Knuckles Mountain Range in the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka along with the Peak Wilderness Protected Area and the Horton Plains National Park is considered a super biodiversity hotspot and are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society was invited to participate in the Workshop. Three of the SLWCS’ staff personnel: Chandima Fernando, Chinthaka Weerasinghe and Chathuranga Dharmarathne assisted as facilitators to the three panels that were assigned to discuss relevant issues and concerns pertaining to community based ecotourism.

The SLWCS is hopeful that all of these initial efforts by the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment will lead to establishing the Summits to Sea (S3) Initiative the Society has been proposing for the past 18 years. The S3 Initiative if established would be the largest landscape conservation project in Sri Lanka covering a land area of 16,956 square kilometers (6,547 square miles) extending over the Central, North Central and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka from the Knuckles Mountains to the territorial waters and coast in Trincomalee.

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Secretary Ministry of Environment, Anura Dissanayake

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Conservator General of the Forest Department, Anura Sathurusinghe

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SLWCS staff acting as Facilitators: Chandima

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Chinthaka

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Chathuranga

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Ravi Corea presenting one of the panel reports

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Knuckles Mountains Pitavala Pathana Mini World's End

August 8th 2018 – Workshop on Human Elephant Conflicts in the Matale District.

The SLWCS received a request from the District Secretary (Government Agent) of Matale to convene a workshop to discuss the various matters in regard to human elephant conflicts in the Matale District and its resolution. Nearly 600 people including community members, experts, scientists and government officials participated in the workshop. Ecologist, Chandima Fernando and Operations Manager, Chinthaka Weerasinghe acted as facilitators and moderators in the discussion that ensued. The Society provided refreshments to all of the attendees.

After the main workshop a more detailed close door discussion was held at the official residence of the Government Agent where only the officials, researchers, conservationists, and wildlife managers participated to develop an action plan to address the issues that were identified during the workshop discussions. The SLWCS was assigned with the task to conduct a district level survey of elephants and assessment of HEC in the Matale District. In this regard the SLWCS submitted a proposal and is awaiting the permission and support from the Department of Wildlife Conservation to conduct the survey and assessment.

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The SLWCS organized the workshop for the Matale GA's office. Here Chinthaka and Chandima are getting the presentation ready

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Chandima giving the introductory presentation on human elephant conflict

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The large group of stakeholders who attended the workshop

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The closed door session to develop the action plan

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The SLWCS was assigned to conduct a survey of elephants and an assessment of HEC

August 2nd 2018 - Meeting to discuss the promotion of eco tourism in the Knuckles Mountain area and the creating of a Green Investment Zone for renewable energy and sustainable development initiatives

The SLWCS Ecologist, Chandima Fernando and Operations Manager, Chinthaka Weerasinghe gave a presentation on the Summits to Sea (S3) Initiative using other large landscape projects such as the Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y) project in the USA and Canada, and the Great Trail project of Canada as examples of innovative and forward thinking sustainable green development initiatives. The concept of a Green Investment Zone was an idea that the SLWCS had presented to the Ministry of Environment in support of the S3 Initiative.

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The Summits to Sea (S3) Initiative will save a vast landscape from our mountains to...

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...the ocean and everything in between.

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A large herd of elephants feeding in the river valleys located between the mountains and the ocean

July 24th 2018 – Presentation of the S3 Initiative to the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment

SLWCS President, Ravi Corea was invited to make a presentation on the Summits to Sea (S3) Initiative and the Marine Resource-conservation Initiative for Nature-based Enterprise (MaRINE) Project. Ravi made the presentation to the Secretary to the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment, Mr. Anura Dissanayake and to various additional secretaries, directors and other officials of the ministry. The presentation was well received and the discussion centered on how this concept could be adapted and integrated into the ongoing efforts of the ministry.

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Summits to Sea (S3) Initiative will set new benchmarks in environmental conservation in Sri Lanka as well as globally

July 17th 2018 – ROAR Media interviews Ravi Corea about Project Orange Elephant

On July 17th ROAR Media (https://company.roar.media/) interviewed Ravi about the Society’s Project Orange Elephant initiative. The full length article is available at this link: https://roar.media/english/life/environment-wildlife/containing-the-human-elephant-conflict-what-is-project-orange-elephant/ The interview was conducted by Ms. Roel Raymond

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Ravi being interviewed by Roel Raymond of ROAR Media

July 13th 2018 – Conference on Wildlife Conservation for Wildlife Stakeholders

The president of the SLWCS, Ravi Corea was invited to participate in the Conference on Wildlife Conservation for Wildlife Stakeholders that was organized by the Ministry for Sustainable Development, Wildlife and Regional Development and held under the patronage of Hon. Minister of Sustainable Development, Wildlife and Regional Development, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka. Ravi was also invited to make a presentation on the Summits to Sea (S3) Initiative and the Marine Resource-conservation Initiative for Nature-based Enterprise (MaRINE) Project.

Ravi acted as the panel leader for the Group 6 – Marine Resource Conservation Panel which was among several panels that were convened during the Conference. The topic that took center stage though was the Ministry’s plans to mitigate human elephant conflicts. These plans have become a contentious issue drawing intense and vehement opposition from scientists, conservationists and NGO representatives who want the Hon Minister and the officials of the Department of Wildlife Conservation to develop solutions for HEC mitigation and elephant conservation based on sound science and wildlife management principles.

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Ravi was the Panel Leader and Moderator for the Marine Resource Conservation Panel

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Dr. Sumith Pilapitya (former Director General of Wildlife), Ravi Corea, Hon. Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka, Deputy Minister, Palitha Therapperuma

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July 8th 2018 – A Discussion on Human Elephant Conflicts in the Matale District

The SLWCS was invited to participate in a meeting to discuss HEC issues and concerns pertaining to the Matale District at the Naula Divisional Secretariat. The meeting was convened under the patronage of the Hon. Minister for Sustainable Development, Wildlife and Regional Development, Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka. At the meeting the SLWCS handed to the Hon Minister a detailed letter outlining several concerns the Society had in regard to the escalating human elephant conflicts, the ongoing loss of elephant habitat and corridors, and about some of the HEC mitigation measures implemented and being planned. In its letter the Society informed the minister that it was crucially important to develop HEC mitigation measures and base elephant conservation efforts on sounds science, empirical information and wildlife management principles.

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June 6th to 10th 2018 - Waterkeeper Alliance Conference of 2018 (and 2019)

The Waterkeeper Alliance was founded in 1999, in response to the growing threats to the water bodies of the world and to defend communities against threats to their right to clean water. There are more than 300 Waterkeeper Organizations and affiliates on six continents in 35 countries defending communities against anyone who threatens their right to clean water—from polluters to unresponsive government agencies. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. serves as its president.

In 2015, the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society was honored to be appointed the Mahaweli River Waterkeeper by the Waterkeeper Alliance. This is the first time in Sri Lanka that a river or any surface water body in the country has a designated waterkeeper.

SLWCS President, Ravi Corea attended the conference that was held in Buffalo, New York and made many new contacts that could potentially help the Society in its role as the Mahaweli River Waterkeeper. Currently the SLWCS is in the process of complying with the 13 quality standards that are required of all Waterkeeper Alliance affiliates.

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Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

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Today there are nearly 300 Waterkeepers globally. Ravi is somewhere in there.

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Ravi, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. & Sharon Khan

April 25th to 27th 2018 - The 9th meeting of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission (SSC) Asian Elephant Specialist Group (AsESG)

The 9th meeting of the IUCN SSC AsESG was held at the Anantara Resorts flagship Avani Riverside Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand from April 25 to the 27th.

Asian elephant specialists from around the world including from the 13 Asian elephant range countries met to deliberate matters pertaining to the conservation, protection, welfare and management of the critically endangered Asian elephant. A highlight of this year’s meeting was the presence of official State representatives from all thirteen Asian elephant range countries.

Three members from the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society participated in this year’s meeting. The president of the SLWCS, Ravi Corea is a long standing member and former Coordinator of the Human Elephant Conflict Task Force of the AsESG. SLWCS Ecologist, Chandima Fernando and Logistics Coordinator, Indika Sampath attended as observers.

Ravi is also a member of two Working Groups created by the AsESG to develop guidelines for the management and care of captive elephants in musth and for human elephant conflict.

The participation of the SLWCS contingent was possible due to a generous travel grant from one of the Society’s corporate sponsors, elephantea (www.elephantea.com). We urge our friends and supporters to taste the many flavors of organic tea that is produced by elephantea in support of elephant conservation efforts in Sri Lanka.

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The Sri Lankan contingent at the IUCN AsESG Meeting

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Ravi moderating a meeting session

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The two working groups Ravi is a member of.

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Three of the most senior AsESG members: Jayantha Jayewardena, Ajay Desai and Dr. Raman Sukumar

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Sampath, Chandima, AsESG Chairman, Vivek Menon, Ravi & Manjula Amararathne

Photo Credits:

Chinthaka Weerasinghe/SLWCS
Chandima Fernando/SLWCS
Sudath Abeysinghe/BECT
Indika Sampath/SLWCS
Ravi Corea/SLWCS
Dilan/ESCAMP
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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