Traveling abroad expands our horizons,
exposes us to new cultures, and in some cases, brings to light the challenges faced by the communities we explore. Such is the case, at least, for our Director Mike Meighan and staff members Simon Livingston and Jake Steward.
During an adventure-race-themed holiday in Sri Lanka in which Mike, Simon, and Jake raced a tuk-tuk across Sri Lanka, the trio encountered a number of wild Sri Lankan elephants in the northern reaches of the island nation’s countryside. During these encounters, the team noticed that human-elephant interactions were actually quite common here and began wondering about the future of Sri Lankan elephant populations in the face of a rapidly expanding human population.
As it turns out, Sri Lankan Elephants (Elephas maximus maximus) are listed as “endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), largely as a result of Human-Elephant Conflicts (HEC). As rural populations grow and encroach on wild areas, Human-Elephant Conflicts become more common, accounting for up to 80 human deaths and up to 200 elephant deaths every year by some estimates.
At our core, we have always sought to provide meaningful, transformative experiences around the world for our students. Through all of these service and conservation trips, we have sought to not only enjoy and explore the places to which we travel but to leave a small corner of the world a little better than we found it. For us, meaningful service means plugging into the work of an organization whose work creates a positive change in the world, whether it is in support of humanitarian work, environmental initiatives, or infrastructure development.
So when the opportunity arose for GoBeyond to join hands with the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society in support of their mission to “enable communities to balance ecosystem protection and economic development by pioneering a model for sustainable conservation,” the choice to get involved was a no-brainer.
As an international, community-based organization committed to the research, conservation, and protection of Sri Lanka’s endangered wildlife, communities, and natural habitats, the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society plays a critical role in protecting the biodiversity of Sri Lanka and mitigating wildlife-human conflict. In this new journey, our students will have the opportunity to be directly involved with ongoing research efforts to understand the behavioral patterns of Sri Lanka’s wild elephants while exploring one of the world’s most vibrant cultures. Remote landscapes, ancient ruins, and modern cities converge on this tiny island nation in an off-the-beaten-path, once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
Want to learn more about the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society? Check out the video above and then follow this link to learn more about volunteering with elephants!
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