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Conserving Wild Asian Elephants

by Trunks & Leaves Inc.
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Conserving Wild Asian Elephants
Conserving Wild Asian Elephants
Conserving Wild Asian Elephants
Conserving Wild Asian Elephants
Conserving Wild Asian Elephants
Conserving Wild Asian Elephants
Conserving Wild Asian Elephants
Conserving Wild Asian Elephants
Conserving Wild Asian Elephants
Conserving Wild Asian Elephants
Conserving Wild Asian Elephants

The work started with this project is continuing under GlobalGiving Project No. 37368 - "Investing in Communities to Conserve Elephants."

It has two components:

1)    Understanding how elephants and people share space

Using camera traps, we are able to observe how people, elephants and other animals are using landscapes outside protected areas. We have deployed more than 20 cameras over fourteen months so far and are working our way up to 40. The hundreds of photos show that elephants frequently occur on private lands. This includes herds with calves, which are mostly active at night so as to avoid people. On the one hand, this is good news because it shows how adaptable elephants are in being able to continue surviving on land that is heavily used by people. On the other hand this exposes them to lots of risks. We've enlisted the help of the School of Computing from the University of Colombo to help us sort and analyze the photographs.

2)    Supporting communities living with elephants

Six schools were supported in the first round of fundraising (GG project 33222). At the end of the Sri Lankan school year in December 2018 we had a very special visitor who brought a wealth of Montessori training material to donate to each school and conducted a crash course on Positive Discipline with all the teachers. In January, the start of the school year, the materials were distributed to each school. In February we started a fresh survey of new communities and schools to include in the program and expect to complete this assessment by mid-March.

Please see attached document for the full report with photographs and visit the new project to keep receiving future updates!

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Sujeewa Lakmini and students at Pubudu Pre-School.
Sujeewa Lakmini and students at Pubudu Pre-School.

What has early childhood education to do with elephant conservation? While the relationship might not at first seem straight forward, it's actually quite simple: communities are the heart of conservation. Wildlife can flourish when people are willing to allow them to do so. By supporting pre-schools in villages that live with elephants, we are building long-term relationships with those who have the least economic opportunities, and yet are positioned to make the greatest positive difference.

We are thrilled to report that we were able to match the funds raised in our first ever GlobalGiving campaign with another conservation grant! This means that 100% of the GG donations can be directed toward local schools. After in-depth discussion with teachers, we were able to create a list of needs tailored for each of five pre-schools (Montessories) and one primary school. Here's what we were able to provide, based on their own requests:

  • Desks and chairs
  • Safe drinking water supply
  • Book case / shelves
  • Play mats
  • Musical teaching aids
  • Books
  • Television set
  • A sign board
  • Building foundations
  • Wire grille for windows to keep out monkeys

We visited each of the teachers multiple times over the past months to ensure that progress was being made. They welcomed us not only into the schools, but even to their homes. We were surprised and concerned to learn that home of one teacher, had in fact been broken by an elephant back in April. They also had a few acres of crops, which endured nearly constant damage from elephants. Despite this, she seemed to harbor no animosity toward the animals - she just ask us to continue to help them in whatever way we could.

They were all extremely grateful for the generosity of shown by their distant sponsors.

"While there are plenty of resources for higher-level studies, there is virtually nothing for the younger children in this area.  It's indeed such a blessing that you have chosen to focus on this level of education for our children," said Ms. Sujeewa Lakmini of Pubudu Pre-School.

What impressed us was the determination of these teachers to do the best for their students. For instance, they encouraged creativity with whatever every-day objects they could gather. Art projects out of tea leaves, paper and discarded yogurt cups decorated the walls, having been turned into elephants, butterflies, lanterns, and pig masks.

When we arrived at Dimuthu Pre-School as the last stop after a long day on the road, we were astonished by the surprise that awaited us: a delicious lunch of rice, fish, and local curries! The teacher there, Ms. K.V. Gunawathie, had gathered together some of the moms and arranged a veritable feast by way of thanks. "Be sure you don't eat a bite of food anywhere else!" she had said. We were touched by their sentiment.

Thanks to your support, we have been able to take this first step towards helping those that are most directly affected by the presence of elephants on their land. Clearly, there is much more work to be done working towards coexistence, so we hope you will continue to stay with us in support of this work. You can follow more updates of this and all our work on the blog.

K.V. Gunawathie & students, Dilena Tharu Pre-Schl
K.V. Gunawathie & students, Dilena Tharu Pre-Schl
Teachers creatively foster creativity!
Teachers creatively foster creativity!
Some sponsored items.
Some sponsored items.
Sponsored books and supplies.
Sponsored books and supplies.
Monkey-proof grille, Kalawelgala Elementary
Monkey-proof grille, Kalawelgala Elementary


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Organization Information

Trunks & Leaves Inc.

Location: Newtonville, MA - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @AsianEle
Project Leader:
Shermin de Silva
San Diego, California United States

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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