Uda Walawe Wildlife Programme

Photo of a Baby Elephant

Sponsoring Baby Calves

Dilmah Conservation is actively involved in elephant conservation initiatives at the Elephant Transit Home (ETH) in Udawalawe National Park and is currently sponsoring the care of an elephant calf named ‘Baby Dilmah’. Previously Dilmah Conservation sponsored the care of another elephant calf, ‘Ted’ (named after the New Zealand All Blacks rugby coach Sir Graham Henry KNZM) who was released back into the wild in 2020. Baby Dilmah will be celebrating her fourth birthday on the 26th of September 2021. You can learn more about her story here or follow her on Twitter.

Photo of Elephants Traveling Through a Lake
Photo credits: Centre for Conservation and Research

Supporting Elephant Conservation

Dilmah Conservation funded the renovation of the Elephant Transit Home (ETH) in 2011 and maintains a dedicated Information Centre designed to create awareness and share vital information on elephants. Dilmah Conservation has also partnered with the Department of Wildlife Conservation and the Centre for Conservation and Research in radio-collaring two elephants at the Yala National Park to study the movement patterns of elephants. Visit the Dilmah Conservation Information Centre at ETH to learn more about these majestic creatures and the problems they face.

The Elephant Transit Home (ETH) which was founded in 1995 at the Udawalawe National Park and was established in order to provide protection for orphaned or abandoned elephant calves. It is home to around 52 rescued elephants between the ages of 1 - 6 years. These elephants who are not yet able to survive in the wild are accorded special care and nourishment by a dedicated team. 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.

  • Objectives

    • 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.
    Feeding Milk to Small Elephants
  • Progress

    Education & Awareness.

    Educating Adjacent Communities

    • Using suitable tools and resources to educate adjacent communities of the need to be eco-friendly, whilst simultaneously working to strengthen their socio-economic standards.

    Fostering Community Understanding

    • Using education as a tool to foster community understanding of the necessity for coexistence between man and nature in order to reduce conflict levels that occur between man and beast. It demonstrated 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.

    Publishing a Book on the Udawalawe National Park

    Establishing an Information Centre

    • The Information Centre at the ETH is designed to create awareness and understanding of elephants and their plight. The Centre houses a large collection of information on elephants, from their origins and evolution to their social behavior and threats. The audio-visual room at the information centre houses a collection of photographs and illustrations offering detailed explanations of the habitats, lifestyles, and anatomy and maps showcasing the distribution of Sri Lankan elephants across the island. Short documentaries on the Udawalawe National Park and the ETH are also shown at the Centre. Dilmah has set up an Art Room at the premises, for children to engage in arts and crafts. Here, they are encouraged to put onto paper or mould with clay information gathered during the educational experience
    Information Centre by Dilmah Conservation Guide Explaining about Elephants

    Hosted a Podcast - What makes an Elephant?

    • In commemoration of World Elephant Day 2020 Dilmah Conservation hosted a podcast as tribute to the enchanting elephants. Podcasts are a dynamic medium to deliver information and inspire audiences. Dr. Jayantha Wattavidanage and Dr. Enoka Kudavidanage, two of Sri Lanka's leading conservation biologists joined in on the conversation to share stories from the wild, reminisce and share fascinating facts on what makes this gentle giant a true Flagship species.

    Engaging Communities

    Mankada - A Pottery Project

    • In order to better engage communities, Dilmah Conservation has partnered with the MJF Charitable Foundation to expand 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 pottery project Mankada engages local communities and provides a sustainable income source to its employees.

    Awareness Programmes for Local Communities

    • Dilmah Conservation has also conducted environmental awareness programmes for local communities, including schools in the vicinity of the Park. Awareness and education programmes are sustained through the Information Centre that is established at the ETH premises.

    An Island-wide Art Competition

    • In celebration of Baby Dilmah’s 3rd birthday, in September 2020 an island-wide art competition was organized to raise awareness on the importance of conserving elephants and coexisting peacefully with them for posterity. The goal was to engage and educate our future leaders of the world to understand the importance of Elephant conservation, and to inculcate a habit of drawing out their passions and using art as a tool for conservation.
    Dilmah Conservation Art Compitition Winners

    Elephant Conservation

    Radio Collaring Elephants

    • Dilmah Conservation has also partnered with the Department of Wildlife Conservation and the Centre for Conservation and Research in radio-collaring two elephants at the Yala National Park to study the movement patterns of elephants.

    Improving Infrastructure Facilities at ETH

    • 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.

    Baby Dilmah’s 2nd Birthday

    • Baby Dilmah’s 2nd Birthday was celebrated in a grand scale, in 2019. The Dilmah Conservation team was joined by some members of the Dilmah staff and children from the MJF Foundation at the Elephant Transit Home. The day was spent learning about these gentle giants and the conservation efforts taken by the ETH, and some elephant themed arts and crafts created courtesy of the Dilmah Staff and children that joined in on the celebrations
    Dilmah Conservation Art Compitition Kids Drawing Dilmah Conservation Art Compitition Clay statues Dilmah Conservation Art Compitition Adults Drawing

    The Soft Release Programme

    • In 2019 Ted was chosen as a potential candidate to join the ‘Soft Release Programme’ to be implemented by the staff of ETH for the first time along with 19 other juvenile calves. The soft release programme allows a gradual introduction to a new environment enabling a smooth transition back to the wild. In May 2020, Ted, at the age of eight, was released back into the wild from the Elephant Transit Home.
    • The staff and wildlife veterinarians at Udawalawe continue to closely monitor the newly released elephants, including Ted. They are thrilled with the progress of the herd, as the elephants have quickly settled into their new habitat successfully. This may be attributed to the presence of three new elephants that have joined them (also previously rehabilitated residents of the ETH) as mentors to the young herd. They have been observed to be acting as guides, leading them to safer habitats, teaching them to forage for food and discover the best water holes in the area till males like Ted are confident to roam on their own.
    A group of elephants Elephantnt in Mud
  • Partners

    • Department of Wildlife Conservation of Sri Lanka