TUI Wildlife Sri Lanka

ENG_Sri Lanka

Live and let live: a solar solution for Sri Lankan communities and elephants.

Over 70% of the elephant population in Sri Lanka lives outside protected areas and 44% of this land is shared with humans. However, humans and elephants do not always live harmoniously side by side and this is a major conservation and socio-economic issue in Sri Lanka.

So, the TUI Care Foundation and the Centre for Conservation Research Sri Lanka (CCR) and Cinnamon Nature Trails, are supporting the village of Bendiwewa in the Habarana region to build and maintain a solar powered fence in their community. The aim is to address human-elephant conflict, build the capacity of the village to maintain the fences, collect data on the impact on both the elephants and the community and develop an eco-tourism experience.

“The Gathering” in Sri Lanka’s Minneriya National Park is the world’s largest meeting in the wild of Asian elephants. Each year during the dry season, up to 300 elephants migrate here at a time to find water, feed and socialise.

However, when the elephants migrate, they can cause damage to crops and the local infrastructure. The scale of the challenge makes it difficult to address this using only nature-based solutions, such as chillies and bees.

Community-based fences respect the ecological boundary between elephants and people. It’s essential that there is human presence next to the fence and that they are regularly maintained – so to be successful, the whole community to be onboard.

There are two types of solar-powered community fences which work best: permanent village fences built around the boundary of settlements to protect dwellings and home-gardens; and seasonal paddy-field fences, built by farmers to protect crops during cultivation. These are placed on the boundary of the fields, removed at harvest and stored until the next growing season, allowing elephants to migrate without obstacles.

The project uses both solutions to maximise conservation efforts. It aims to support the livelihoods of local farmers by developing a sustainable tourism experience for domestic and international tourists and by training tour guides on sustainable and elephant-friendly tourism practices.

Project Partner

The Centre for Conservation and Research was set up to address environmental conservation in Sri Lanka. It conducts, supports and encourages research into all aspects of the environment, including exploring the relationship between ecosystem health, human health, and wildlife health. The Centre for Conservation and Research has worked on community-based fencing since 2008 and has implemented around 50  fences, some of which have been successfully functioning for over a decade.

Cinnamon Nature Trails is one of Sri Lanka’s leading and most experienced eco-excursion providers and has worked with organisations such as BBC Natural History productions, Nat Geo Wild, ZDF Germany on wildlife documentaries. It is the Wildlife and Adventure Tourism Division of Cinnamon Hotel Management.

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