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SLWCS Field Report

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The SLWCS Field House with the Knuckles Mountain Range in the background

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A Home in the Jungle

SLWCS Field House: A Portal to Adventures in the Wild!

Situated on a hill by the southeastern boundary of the Pussellayaya village in Wasgamuwa in the Central Province of Sri Lanka, the SLWCS Field House overlooks on an incredibly scenic and dynamic tapestry of rural and remote Sri Lanka. The environment is a kaleidoscope of colors, moods, weather, nature and atmosphere that is always in constant motion.

To the south along the far horizon stand the most significant and one of the most distinguishing geographic features of the Central Province, the Knuckles Mountain Range. Looming over the landscape the imposing and distinctly knuckle-shaped mountain ridge is unmistakable. By the base of the hill where the Field House stands is the vast expanse of open water known as the Karauw-gus Weva, which is actually a man-made irrigation reservoir or tank and not a natural lake. The tank is like a vast mirror that reflects the skies, the mountains and the ever changing moods of the land while creating a sense of infinite space and freedom. Though its’ man-made, the lake blends in so well with the natural landscape and with the day to day rhythm of the local village life so perfectly, that to imagine life without the tank is unimaginable.

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SLWCS Field House blends in organically with its surroundings in Wasgamuwa

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The distinct knuckle-shaped ridge of the Knuckles Mountain Range

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The tank is a vast mirror that reflects the moods of the land

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The rising sun painting a panorama of living color

The field house itself is very organic and in many ways emulates the natural features of the land. Unless one is really looking for it, it is hardly discernible and a person would find it difficult to distinguish it in this wild land of myriad colors, wildlife and geographic features. To get to the Wasgamuwa National Park from the Field House takes less than 15 minutes by car. While the Field House is basic, it is very spacious and homely with lots of room, and has a high roof to catch the cooling breezes wafting from the lake and valley below.

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Entrance

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Entrance verandha and hallway

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One of the several Social Areas

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Heated card and board games happens in this corner of the Field House!

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A card game and a birthday vying for attention...

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A corner for quiet contemplation.

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A view to unsurpass

Over the years the Field House has grown from a straw thatched mud building on a hill top to a home that can now accommodate up to 50 individuals comfortably with most types of vehicles being able to access the road that leads to it. On several occasions we’ve even had visitors and film crews drop down at the Field House by helicopter. We have also had the honor of hosting a number of distinguish visitors at the Field House including several ambassadors - among them the former US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Honorable Patricia Butenis and very popular Bollywood film star, Ms. Jacqueline Fernandez. The Field House has also being a temporary home for orphaned, rescued and injured wildlife over the years. These animals fortunately got a second chance to go back to the wild to live free after receiving care at the Field House. At any given time visitors can be surprised by having to share the Field House with one of these unexpected temporary visitors.

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The humble beginnings

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How it looks now

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A film crew about to take off

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Dodam the giant squirrel was rescued from a temple where he was housed in a cage with barely room to turn around

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To be free and wild...

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...Well, not always. Playing cute probably to wrangle an immigrant visa from the US Ambassador!

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Siriya teaching an orphaned Scops Owl to fly

The design of the Field House is perfect for the climate and terrain it is situated—it is very open to the outdoors—which helps to keep the house relatively cool during the hot days and nights and dry during the rainy season. The house has nine bathrooms with flush toilets, showers and sinks. There are six dormitory-style rooms sectioned off for privacy and they are situated around the two communal social areas of the house. The rooms have comfortable bunk beds for 6 or up to 18 people to share. Electric fans, mosquito nets, pillows and clean bed-sheets are provided. All meals are freshly prepared every day and there is a 24/7 Tea/Coffee Station. The world famous Ceylon Tea is the norm. Vegan and vegetarian meals are provided. There is good mobile cellphone coverage. Volunteers are advised to purchase SIM cards from local service providers with data for WiFi access. Facilities to charge electronic equipment is available throughout the house.

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Rooms have comfortable bunk beds with mosquito nets and ceiling fans

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Modern bathrooms

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Clean western style bathrooms

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Shower with a view of the wild.

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Field House Graffiti from appreciative visitors. Paradise Found

What becomes quickly apparent is that the Field House is not a standalone or disparate element of SLWCS’ operations, wildlife conservation efforts and research work. The Field House is very central and important to the work of the SLWCS since it is the operations nerve center and pulse of the Society. For our volunteers, interns and visitors as well as for our staff, it provides the base from where they set off on wild adventures that provides experiences of a life time. Every day from its cozy confines, SLWCS staff along with volunteers and interns head out to conduct the various ongoing projects and programs of the society. Never are two trips the same since life in the wild is totally unpredictable.

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SLWCS Ecologist, Chandima briefing the volunteers prior to heading into the field

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SLWCS Staff and volunteers working on data inputting

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Preparing to head to the field

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Heading to the field

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Momentous memories that live forever...

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Getting life changing experiences

Currently plans are afoot to construct another addition with bathrooms and expand one of the existing rooms in a continuing effort, to make the SLWCS Field House a comfortable home and field base for our volunteers, interns, visitors, guests and staff.

For an overview of the field house location, type: SLWCS, Wasgamuwa, Sri Lanka into Google Maps and switch to satellite image.

We hope you will visit us soon!

Field House in Google Maps

Type: SLWCS, Wasgamuwa, Sri Lanka into Google Maps

Photo Credits:

Chinthaka Weerasinghe/SLWCS
Chandima Fernando/SLWCS
Ravi Corea/SLWCS

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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