Wild Horses & Delft

Dilmah Conservation established a programme in Delft in hopes of remedying issues relating to the inadequacy of drinking water which is affecting both the island's residents and its diminishing wild horse population.

Located on the Palk Straight, 10 km southwest of Jaffna, Delft (also known as Neduntivu or the Long Island) is the second largest of Sri Lanka's islands with a history spanning over a thousand years.

Delft's history and heritage was especially influenced by Ceylon's relationships with Portuguese, Dutch and British colonists since the 16th century. Utilized as a ground for rearing cattle and horses, the island was first described as Ilha das Vacas or Island of Cows and then as Ilha das Cavallos or Island of Horses. Even today, the island is famously known for its extraordinary population of wild horses.

Delft is home to a largely Christian and Hindu Tamil community of about 5,000 people who principally engage in fishing, producing dried fish, rearing cattle and poultry, and cottage industries centered on Palmyra products.


Dilmah Conservation supported a hydrological study carried out by the IHE Delft Institute for Water Education and Acacia Water to find out the potential of groundwater use on Delft island.

This community once drew water from a series of shallow wells, constructed in the early 1800s. But, the wells were highly vulnerable to seawater intrusion and hardly met the demand of the community. The collaborative study recommended the best locations and practices for getting freshwater as well as sustainable options that would increase the water reserves.