The staff with the help of volunteers are making great strides in improving the lives of the captive elephants in Sri-Lanka that have found a safe home on this project near Kegalle. Many of the elephants come from appalling conditions, living on short chains 24/7 outside of a temple or being worked in the logging industry. On this project the elephants are given a place of sanctuary with veterinary services and care. The ultimate aim of the project is to work towards improving the lives of the elephants and develop conservation, not only for the herd on site but also for elephants across Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka as a country has faced great hardship having come out of a 25 year civil war in 2009. This has resulted in suffering and poverty for its people and has also meant the same for its animals. The level of animal care in Sri Lanka is generally considerably lower than many other countries in Asia and very different from those in the western world. It is for this reason that this project is so important as it is working tirelessly to take the steps needed to demonstrate that elephants and animals generally should be treated with compassion, care and be respected.
The project works with the elephant owners and the mahouts (the handlers employed by the owners to live and work with the elephants) to continuously improve the conditions of the elephants at the sanctuary. A new free roam area has been created so that the elephants can relax and socialise together during the day time and it fantastic to see these elephants (many of whom have never been near another elephant) bond and spend time together.
When the project was founded in 1999, with the assistance of the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), the situation of all the elephants at the sanctuary was quite different to today and the project manager has explained how changes in Sri Lanka take time and it can be hard and frustrating but they are determined to make a difference every day.
The project manager explains how it is customary in Sri Lanka for the captive elephants to wear chains at all times and that all the elephants who come to them arrive with heavy chains. Currently, they have reached the stage where 4 of the resident elephants no longer wear the chains they came in at all during the day and they have persuaded the mahouts that the others should have lighter chains and provided these for them. Of course the ultimate aim is to have all the elephants chain free but this takes time and they are working towards this with the owners and mahouts. There are usually between 6 – 10 elephants at the sanctuary permanently or temporarily resident and since the sanctuary opened they have cared for more than 80 elephants ranging in age from 30 – 58 years.
The project is also planning to build night time shelters for the elephants and they are currently looking at purchasing further land, gaining planning permission and fundraising to help make this plan a reality as soon as possible for the elephants.
Make a real difference to the lives of Captive Elephants in Sri Lanka! Even if you can only spare 1 week, we can guarantee you an incredible experience helping to care for and improve the lives of these wonderful animals.
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I had a great week volunteering at The Elephant Care and Conservation Project in Sri Lanka. The people were very friendly and it was amazing working with the Elephants for a week. Thank you Amanzi Travel for arranging this for me and your helpful assistance from time of booking all the way up to departure.
Jessica, UK, aged 24 (Sri Lanka Elephant Care and Conservation Project)