The Biodiversity Elephant Conservation Trust (BECT) in Sri Lanka is a non-profit NGO that focuses on studying elephants and teaching school children about human-elephant conflict (HEC). AES has been funding their school programs for a few years now and we are happy to hear from Mr. Jayantha Jayewardene that their 2016 curriculum was a success. 45 schools participated in their School Awareness Programs over 6 districts throughout the island. An average of 151 pupils and 9 teachers were in attendance. The programs are specifically located in rural areas so that children can be made aware of the difficulties surrounding HEC and how they can help their communities mitigate the issues of coexisting with elephants. Elephant biology, ecology, and religious symbolism are all taught in the half day course at each school. Being able to empower the next generation with knowledge and respect for elephants will certainly make sure that their survival in the limited space within Sri Lanka is guaranteed. We at AES look forward to our continued work with Mr. Jayewardene and the BECT.
Projects in Sri Lanka
This past July, four elephants were released from the Elephant Transit Home to the Udawalawe National Park in Sri Lanka. The plan is to release a total of nine elephants this year; the other five have yet to be released. They have been collared to monitor their progress and whereabouts as they integrate into their new home. Thank you, Mr. Vijitha Perera for the update and we look forward to hearing more as other elephants are ready to be released!
Celebrating 20 years returning elephants to the wild
Over the past two decades the ETH has been able to release 99 elephant orphans. They are released in groups of 4-8 after rehabilitation and integration into the EHT herd. From those 99 releases only 7 have died and 15 babies have been born. So how does an elephant become an orphan? Unfortunately the answer lies with human-elephant conflict. Mothers are killed for crop raiding or are killed by accident in electrocutions and train accidents. Almost all of the orphans arrive in very poor condition with ailments ranging from dehydration to severe parasitic infestation and even congenital defects. That being said there have been many losses over the years.
When the orphans first arrive they are immediately given medical treatment to assess their condition. They are given milk and whatever other nutrition they require to be brought back to homeostasis. From there the new herd members are introduced to the already established herd and begin to participate in activities with the other kiddos such as swimming, grazing, and mud wallowing. What is very special about this program is it is the only one of its kind with years of data to track their successes in an Asian elephant range country. The number of elephants in Sri Lanka is just over 6,000, with about 250 living in human care. The EHT has seen and experienced so much over the years and will continue to work to save orphan elephants.
We at AES look forward to the continued success of the EHT and are very thankful to have the opportunity to support such a dedicated group of people. Thank you, Dr. B. Vijitha Perera, Suhada Jayawardena, Neshma Kumudini, Tharaka Prasad, Department of Wildlife Conservation Sri Lanka, et. al. for the amazing work you are doing in Sri Lanka.
The Elefriendly Bus in Sri Lanka is already up and running and changing the lives of humans and elephants in a village near Wasgamuwa National Park. The first rides were given this past May 23rd and the route is now used daily by school children, farmers, pedestrians, and cyclists. We are so happy that we could be a part of helping people coexist peacefully alongside elephants. If you would like to learn more have a look at this video:
Do you ever wonder if your donation actually makes a difference for elephants?
The answer to that question is very simple, YES!
In 2015, AES was able to donate $4000 to the Biodiversity and Elephant Conservation Trust’s Schools Awareness Program. This program helps educate children in 150 schools per year on the urgent need to conserve Sri Lanka’s wild elephant population. The following is a portion of a report from Jayantha Jayewardene, Managing Trustee of BECT.
Report on Schools Awareness Program 2015
The program has been designed with a view to giving students a better idea of the habits, ecology, social behavior, and basic biology of elephants, as well as presenting ways to minimize human-elephant conflicts and damage.
Progress of Program
In 2015 we carried out Schools Awareness Programs in 40 schools on behalf of the Asian Elephant Support. These schools were from six (6) districts around the island. On an average there were 143 children and 7 teachers present at each of these programs. The principals of these schools have recorded their appreciation of our programs in a Record Book, which we maintain. A map showing the districts where the programs were carried out is at the end of this report.
The cost of carrying out this program per school is $ 100. This includes fees for lecturers, transport, accommodation, food and books for the school library. The program was carried out in 40 schools on behalf of Asian Elephant Support, whose grant was $ 4,000.
With the knowledge that is imparted to the children, they will have a better understanding and appreciation of the problem of human-elephant conflicts and know in greater detail about the natural and socio-cultural history of the elephants. This will reduce the negative attitude towards the elephant by the local communities, especially among the younger generations so that they can then be persuaded to take a more positive role in the conservation of elephants in the future.
Sometimes funding takes a detour and finds yet another great destination!
Last year we agreed to fund participation at a symposium on elephants for the program coordinator at the Biodiversity & Elephant Conservation Trust. Agreements were reached, funds were transferred….and then the symposium was cancelled. Initially, it was expected that the meeting would be rescheduled. But as the months passed with no further announcements, what to do with the funds?
The Biodiversity & Elephant Conservation Trust teaches awareness programs in poor rural schools. The programs are carried out in areas where there are conflicts between humans and wild elephants, where both humans and elephants die and where there is much crop and property damage.
The school programs are very useful as they show the children the reasons for the need to conserve elephants and how this can be done. These programs introduce the children to all aspects of the elephant including its physiology, biology, reproduction, home ranges, family life, etc. The programs give examples of how they can implement effective elephant conservation strategies.
Naturally, helping to fund these outreach classes seemed a most logical use of the funds already received, but unable to be used toward their initial purpose. From education one, which would have been a good use of our resources, the pictures show our funds are able to reach a much larger audience and a young audience….the next generation into whose hands the future of the Asian elephant will then be placed.
We appreciate our donors support that allows us to help make such education happen and if you think this is a good use of funding, please consider a donation at this time. Thank you.