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To enable communities to balance ecosystem protection and economic development by pioneering a model for sustainable wildlife conservation.
The Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society (SLWCS) addresses one of the biggest environmental and socioeconomic crises in rural Sri Lanka which is human-elephant conflicts. As a result of this conflict, annually 80 people are killed by elephants and over 200 elephants are killed in retaliation by farmers every year for damaging their crops, property and lives. Our efforts have made it possible for elephants and people to coexist in a region that used to be rife with conflicts. As the old saying goes, for us now it is a matter of "not just winning the war, but the challenge of keeping the peace."
The Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society was one of the first organizations to develop a community-based participatory approach to resolve human-elephant conflicts. In 2008, the SLWCS received a UNDP Equator Prize for its innovative and pioneering efforts to protect people and elephants.
There are about 5000 Asian elephants left in Sri Lanka and they are listed by the IUCN as 'Endangered' and by CITES as a species threatened with extinction. The main threats they face in Sri Lanka are habitat loss due to clearing of forest for subsistence agriculture, poaching for ivory, and retribution killing for raiding crops.
Through our Saving Elephants by Helping People Project we are striving to make elephants more valuable to the local communities alive rather than dead, by engaging, training and paying locals to be involved in their conservation together with scientists and volunteers and by developing a sustainable tourism program in the area.
Volunteers are crucial for the success of these projects and programs.
Volunteers enjoy this unique experience while supporting the conservation of an endangered species and its habitat and helping marginalized communities.
- Ravi Corea
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