Lucinda, one of Taronga’s qualified school teachers, is currently in Sri Lanka learning more about the Biodiversity and Elephant Conservation Trust (BECT) and their Schools Awareness Program, which Taronga supports.
The BECT conducts the Schools Awareness Programs in rural districts of Sri Lanka, where there are incidents of human-elephant conflict. Sadly, Sri Lankan officials estimate about 200 elephants are killed annually when they stray into agricultural areas, while marauding elephants are said to kill some 50 people each year.
The objective of the Schools Awareness Program is to create awareness amongst the children living in the areas where there is human-elephant conflict of the value of elephants, how and why elephants cause damage to crops and houses and cause human fatalities and how children and their families can help to minimize conflict and conserve elephants for the future.
Taronga has been involved in the BECT Schools Awareness Program since 2008 and has helped fund over 166 school sessions. Check in regularly to read about Lucinda’s trip to Sri Lanka, starting with her arrival in a very hot Negombo.Sri Lanka Commuity Education
Click image to view gallerySaturday 10 September @ 12pmI have arrived safely in Sri Lanka and I have had a few hours sleep in a town called Negombo. Today I am very excited as I will be meeting Dr Prithiviraj Fernando, an elephant expert, to learn more about conservation and education projects in Sri Lanka. I'll keep you posted as I head to Uda Walawe to meet local school students and see wild elephants!
Lucinda - Taronga Zoo Education Officer.
Monday 12 September @ 8am
Today I met with Dr Fernando in Colombo to learn more about human elephant conflict in Sri Lanka, it was so interesting to spend time with him learning more about this complex situation. He shared so much information with me - I felt very lucky to be learning from an expert. I will hopefully head out in to the National Parks with him later in this week to see some of the elephants that he has been tracking and working with.
I am now heading off on a 6 hour drive to Uda Walawe, I will send through photos soon.
Lucinda - Taronga Zoo Education Officer. Tuesday 13 September @ 2pmUda Walawe
After a 6 hour drive and arriving late yesterday I had a great nights sleep at Kalus Hideaway in Uda Walawe. Early this morning I visited the Elephant Transit Home to watch the orphaned elephants being fed and to meet with Dr Perera. It was a great facility that backed on to the National Park and I was lucky enough to get up close to the orphaned elephants as Dr Perera needed assistance taking a photo of an elephant that had a wound on its face. Attached is a photo a of the feeding time and a photo of a sign at the orphanage which I thought was great!
Tomorrow I head out on a safari tour of the Uda Walawe National Park to see some wild elephants!
Lucinda - Taronga Zoo Education Officer Wednesday 14 September @ 6pmUda Walawe National Park
What an amazing experience, I have just been on a safari tour of the Uda Walawe National Park and I have seen over 50 wild elephants - below is one of many photos that I took whilst on the safari. I also saw a huge variety of birds, crocodiles and spotted deer. My young volunteer guide was fantastic and also shared a passion for wildlife and conservation. I'm now looking forward to meeting the local school students.
Lucinda -Taronga Zoo Education Officer 15 September @ 12pm
I have visited Nikawewa Kanishta Vidyalaya School in the District of Moneragala, about an hours drive from Uda Walawe to watch the Biodiversity and Elephant Conservation Trust schools awareness program in action. The presentation was great and meeting the students was amazing. The photo below is the whole school with approximately 80 students, it was the first time a foreigner has visited the school - an experience I will never forget!
Lucinda -Taronga Zoo Education Officer 15 September @ 4pmThe second school that I have visited is Kahakurullanpelessa Kanishta Vidyalaya also in the District of Moneragala, I felt so special - the students were so excited to meet a foreigner. It was truly an amazing experience the students gathered around me practicing their English an opportunity they had never had before. Once again the BECT School Awareness was very impressive and the students and teachers were beautiful.
Lucinda - Taronga Zoo Education Officer