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 is currently in the process of establishing 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.
Along with finding a solution to the island’s limited sources of drinking water, the main objective this initiative hopes to accomplish is the establishment of sustainable livelihood opportunities for the local community and facilitation of the preservation of the island’s heritage sites.
The Department of Wildlife Conservation has initiated a working group and steering committee to further explore potential for developing conservation-related activities in Delft. Dilmah Conservation is leading the working group on heritage along with the AGA of Delft and the Department of Archaeology, University of Jaffna. Having completed a few site visits for documentation purposes, Dilmah Conservation is in the process of developing various informational materials towards documenting the sites located in Delft, and a short video documentary covering the island's natural and cultural heritage.