Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society
The Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society (SLWCS) was founded in 1995 to develop a new paradigm for wildlife conservation in Sri Lanka. The SLWCS is committed to addressing issues that are considered priorities to increase the quality of life of people and their welfare, i.e. education, community development, capacity building, sustainable development, and a healthy environment. The Society recognizes the fact that the issues that beset wildlife conservation are the symptoms of a varied and diverse regimen of mostly socioeconomic causes that drive rural communities to negatively impact their environment. By approaching environmental conservation through a participatory approach, the SLWCS formulates its projects and programs from the aspects of human needs and aspirations. The SLWCS operates on the philosophy and basic premise that local communities must actively participate in, as well as, benefit from conservation and research efforts to save threatened ecosystems, endangered wildlife and their habitats. In pursuing this objective, the Society develops its projects and programs in a bottom to top process by assessing the resources, strengths, weaknesses, threats, and needs of a community and their environment. At the same time, the Society also approaches conservation in a top-down process as it realizes that it is essential that regional, national and international planners and stakeholders are involved for effective conservation to happen.
Since 1997 the SLWCS has promoted conservation through community-based initiatives, because the society firmly believes it is the only way to achieve sustainable conservation. The overall vision of the SLWCS is to develop a new model for sustainable conservation with the following goals: 1) The protection of biodiversity in priority areas, 2) The promotion of sustainable use of biodiversity, and 3) The strengthening of rural institutions and promoting cooperative governance and community involvement in conservation.
Human elephant conflict (HEC) is the biggest environmental and rural socio-economic crises in the Dry Zone of Sri Lanka today. The main reason is that 70% of Sri Lanka’s population of 3,200-4,500 wild elephants lives outside the Protected Areas sharing land with rural people. As a result HEC is prevalent in 51of the 325 Divisional Secretary Divisions in 13 of the 25 Districts and 8 of the 9 Administrative Provinces in Sri Lanka affecting nearly 3 million people. The Society’s efforts to address HEC through its land mark program, Saving Elephants by Helping People standout as one of the most successful attempts to resolve HEC in areas where humans and elephants share space. Today the SEHP project and its concepts directly benefits 165,000 villagers in 3 Administrative Provinces of Sri Lanka. The President of the Society is the current Coordinator of the Human-elephant Conflict Task Force of the IUCN Asian Elephant Specialist Group.
In October 2008, the SLWCS was honored with an Equator Prize from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Equator Initiative, in recognition of the Society’s "outstanding work in poverty reduction through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity."
The Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society is the only international Sri Lankan community organization. The Society is a fully incorporated non-profit, tax-exempt organization based in the U.S.A., a fully registered voluntary social service non-governmental organization with the Ministry of Social Welfare in Sri Lanka and a registered society in Australia. All SLWCS projects are conducted with the approval and in collaboration with the Department of Wildlife Conservation, Forest Department, Tourist Board and the Mahaweli Authority of Sri Lanka with the support of respective local, district and provincial government authorities and target communities.
The SLWCS projects are funded through grants received from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Canadian International Development Agency, Alexander Abraham Foundation, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Netherlands Committee, Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund, the International Elephant Foundation, Rufford Foundation, and Born Free Foundation. Additionally, our international volunteers and experiential travel program generates approximately one third of our total operations budget, and the entire Wasgamuwa projects budget.