Uda Walawe Wildlife Programme
The Udawalawe National Park lies across the Ratnapura District in the Sabaragamuwa Province and the Monaragala District in the Uva Province, covering an extent of 30,821 hectares. It was declared a national park on the 30th of June 1972 under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance. The objective was to conserve the catchment area of the reservoir, ensuring a flow of silt free water to the reservoir and providing refuge for wildlife displaced by the opening up of land along the lower reaches of the Walawe River for agriculture. Today, the park accommodates 150 resident and 200 migratory elephants.
The Elephant Transit Home (ETH) which was founded in 1995 at the Udawalawe National Park was established in order to provide protection for orphaned or abandoned elephant calves. The ETH is home to around 40 elephants between the ages of 1-5 years. These rescued elephants who cannot survive in the wild alone are accorded special care and nourishment by a dedicated team of keepers who also offer them comfort and encouragement. The transit home ensures that all elephants are returned to the forests when they are old enough to care for themselves, and as such are raised with minimal human interaction. However, it is also important to note that this project was especially designed to foster cross-species empathy towards remedying the thoughtless damage inflicted upon these animals.
This model centered on specialized care has seen to the successful reintegration of 90 elephants back into the wild and a couple of these elephants have been observed to have started families of their own. In addition to elephants, the ETH also currently hosts several other residents in need of care including a number of serpent eagles, giant squirrels, a muntjac, a sambar deer and a face leafed monkey.
Dilmah Conservation has been working with the ETH to help provide these orphaned individuals the proper care they require.
- Continue to support the day-to-day operations of ETH, such as feeding, and any other special requirements.
- Manage and Maintain the ETH Information Centre in order to provide a more informative, educational experience on Elephants for visitors to the Park and promote conservation.
- Dilmah Conservation has extended its support to the ETH through assistance to improve its infrastructure facilities, including the refurbishment of the information centre and installing solar water heaters and filtration system coupled with a UV sterilizer to help minimise heating costs.
- Dilmah Conservation is in the progress of expanding its outreach in the region of the Udawalawe National Park where considerable work has already been carried out to support and empower the lives and livelihoods of the adjacent communities. The ongoing Mankada pottery project, a novel concept by Dilmah Conservation will be further enhanced and plans are afoot to make the Udawalawe National Park a model national park in the country.
- Dilmah Conservation will use suitable tools and resources to educate adjacent communities of the need to be eco-friendly, whilst simultaneously working to strengthen their socio-economic standards.
- The programme will use education as a tool to make the community understand the necessity for coexistence between man and nature in order to reduce conflict levels that occur between man and beast. It will demonstrate income earning methods by sustainably utilising nature rather than by exploiting it. This, Dilmah Conservation hopes, will generate a greater understanding of the importance of biodiversity conservation and foster greater respect for it.
- Dilmah Conservation will conduct environmental awareness programmes for these communities, and will include all schools in the vicinity of the Park. The programme will also provide instructions on income generation in an environmentally sustainable manner, with one such project being the manufacture of recycled paper.
- The second phase of the programme will see improvements to facilities within the Udawalawe National Park and an expansion of the Mankada pottery project. This will include setting up of sales outlets at the Park entrance and at the Elephant Transit Home. This phase will also incorporate special training for the park drivers and guides in order to raise the standard of the services that they provide to visitors.
- This phase will also incorporate special training for the park drivers and guides in order to raise the standard of the services that they provide to visitors.
- The Elephant Transit Home will be upgraded with solar water heating facilities and a biogas plant to encourage sustainable use of resources and to discourage the use of firewood which was originally used in the milk-making process for feeding baby elephants.
- A book on Uda Walawe national park that provides an extensive overview of the park species habitats was published titled ‘A Pictorial Guide to Uda Walawe National Park’. A small booklet also made based on the information available to visitors of the ETH.
- Department of Wildlife Conservation of Sri Lanka