Education for Conservation


Elemotion Foundation works with rural school children to instill conservation principles in future generations. Our projects focus on villages bordering Sri Lanka’s wild elephant protected reserves.
 
Kivul Ara School
Our Goals
– give children a chance at a better life through education
 
– create an appreciation for the role that wild elephants play in their lives
 
– instill a desire to conserve this endangered species

 

 

 

In Sri Lanka, it’s common for wild elephants to roam out of their protected areas and into rural villages in search of food. The elephants raid village crops, damage property, destroy livelihoods, and may scare, injure, or kill people. The clash between elephants and man is called Human-elephant conflict (HEC).

HEC affected children may hear their parents and neighbors complain about recent raids and property damage. When families lose income due to HEC, daily life is disrupted, including the children’s possibility to attend school. Many children see wild elephants regularly and may even walk through elephant infested forests to get to school. On the other hand, some families actually depend on elephant tourism for a living.

 
Despite the complex circumstances, children understand the basic situation between wild elephants and man. They still believe elephants are good and do not mean to harm them. Elemotion Foundation wants to nurture this understanding of wildlife and wild elephant conservation by providing schools with infrastructure, supplies, awareness programs, and nature related activities.

If you would like to support our Education for Conservation school projects, please make a one-time or monthly donation here.

 

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Our Work

 
Conservation Program with Nikapitiya Kanishta Vidyalaya School
 
On November 9th, 2019, Elemotion Foundation participated in an event to commemorate International Day of Biodiversity with students from Nikapitiya Kanishta Vidyalaya School. The event was organized by Sri Lankan Department of Wildlife staff and held at the Wasgomuwa National Park.

Nikapitiya Kanishta Vidyalaya School is located in Polonnaruwa district and suffers from high levels of Human-elephant conflict. It has over 200 students in grades 1st-11th. More than fifty children from grades 8th-11th entered the art competition. For the day’s program, ten places from each grade were chosen, and those students were invited to Wasgomuwa National Park for gifts, certificates, and a conservation program. The school principal and four staff members joined. The day began with transportation from the school to Wasgomuwa National Park, provided by the Giritale National Wildlife Training Center. Once at the park, the Wasgomuwa staff welcomed the children and explained the objectives of the program. The Assistant Park Warden showed a short documentary to the students and did a brief presentation on the habitats of Wasgomuwa National Park, its wildlife, and conservation.

Elemotion Foundation’s country representative, Dr. Deepani Jayantha, continued with a talk about the structure and function of home gardens. With the students’ support, she developed the stratified structure of local home gardens and the wildlife associate with each level. Discussions followed about ecosystem functions of individuals and species groups, symbiotic relationships, and more. It was fun, and our friend and professional artist, Dharshana Karunathilake, drew the scene in background to make the session more interesting. Next Dharshana talked about and illustrated how art can help in studying different subjects. He shared an exercise of drawing trees in different ways and explained to the students some principals of how to appreciate trees through art. He concluded his session with his forte, cartoons.

After an early lunch, it was safari time! We were excited to have the children enjoy a jeep safari into the national park. Unfortunately, heavy rains cut the safari short. Very wet, but happy students returned to the park office for their gifts and certificates.

The day ended at 4:30pm so the students could be home early. Wild elephants frequent the students home villages in the evening. Elemotion Foundation would like to thank the students, principal, and participating staff members of Nikapitiya Kanishta Vidyalaya School; Giritale National Wildlife Training Center and Wasgomuwa National Park staff, and our friend and artist Dharshana Karunathilake. We are grateful for the positive team spirit and collaboration of everyone who made this event a success for the children. Through Elemotion Foundation’s ‘Education for Conservation’ initiative, we hope to continue to work together and make a difference in the lives of the children and their environment.

 

 
Rathambalagama Young Environmental Pioneers Field, Trip Day 1
 
On October 24th-25th, 2019, Elemotion Foundation helped 43 Rathambalagama Pioneers complete their latest environmental activity. The Young Environmental Pioneer program, authorized by the Sri Lankan Ministry of Education, is an activity-based curriculum allowing students to learn about the environment while earning medals. Elemotion Foundation has assisted in three Pioneer awards. This was our first overnight activity! This time, the Pioneers were tasked with studying archeological sites. Our contribution was introducing nature conservation elements such as observations of eco-systems, vegetation, geology, and wildlife.

Day 1

The day started in the early morning with a visit to the Budugala Temple in Kalhota, Balangoda, near Udawalawe, southern Sri Lanka. This ancient site is a rock temple complex with caves and restored shrines. Aptly named Budugala or ‘the rock of Buddha’, the children climbed many stairs and enjoyed the scenic view from the top. Among the huge fig trees, Elemotion Foundation’s country representative, Dr. Deepani Jayantha, conducted a nature session.

The next stop was Kuragala Archeological site. Remains of human skeletons, stone tools, staircases, and religious cave shelters are all part of this prehistoric site. The children observed the dry pathana grasslands which have scattered medicinal trees in abundance. From the top of Kuragala, mountain ranges, paddy fields, and forests made a beautiful mosaic.

Following a breakfast of rice and curry wrapped in banana leaves, the Young Environmental Pioneers stopped at the Samanala Resevoir dam, a hydroelectric power project commissioned in 1992. The 110m tall dam is the second largest hydroelectric project in Sri Lanka. The children observed the dam and discussed its environmental impact. They also learned about a large leak on the right side of the dam which provides two-thirds of the total water supply needed for downstream agricultural use.

The journey continued onto the Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka. Dr. Sandun Jayalal Perera, Senior Lecturer in Biogeography and Conservation Science, welcomed the children. After lunch, the children had a short university orientation, toured the beautiful green grounds, and learned about the geology and ecology of the area. Dr. Perera organized three demonstrations for the students at each: the Geology Lab, Geology Museum, and Biology Lab. The last demonstration was the children’s favorite; Dr. Perera spoke about the identification and conservation of Sri Lankan snakes! This was a wonderful opportunity for the children to visit a university and perhaps even ignite a dream to attend university in the future!

After early evening tea, the Young Pioneers made the 2-hour journey on wet, winding roads to reach their overnight accommodations at a small school in Kottibulwala, Balangoda. The local principal, Mr Pradeep, and friends prepared a cooking area, sleeping arrangements, and toilet facilities.

Day 2 continues in following post…

 

 
Rathambalagama Young Environmental Pioneers Field, Trip Day 2
 
It was a restful, but short sleep. Another early start (5:30am) and herbal porridge, prepared by staff and villagers, awaited the children. When breakfast was finished, the students prepared their lunch packets themselves. The school premises were cleaned and ready to be returned by 9:30am. During a short meeting arranged by Principal Pradeep, the Pioneers thanked the school and villagers for their generosity. Elemotion Foundation donated a parcel of books and a set of environmental publications for the school library as a token of gratitude.

The journey continued to Kottimbulla cave temple, also called Punchi Dambulla, known for beautiful paintings. The children learned about the temple’s history, art, traditions, and culture. Snakhapala Raja Maha Viharaya temple in Pallebedda, Ratnapura district, was the next and final temple stop. Dating back to the ancient Anuradhapura era, this temple is known for its history telling stone pillar, Buddha statues, caves, and rock features.

After lunch, the Pioneers made their way to the Elephant Transit Home orphanage to see the 3:00pm milk feeding. We were so happy the children were able to see the orphaned baby elephants, including our own Kaha-Kurulla or ‘Yellow Bird’! The Elephant Transit Home is run by the Sri Lankan Department of Wildlife Conservation. It is the only orphanage in the world to successfully rescue, rehabilitate, and release Asian orphan elephants back to the wild. Elemotion Foundation has sponsored seven orphans and supported the orphanage since 2012. The orphanage visit finished at 4:00pm and the children arrived home around 6:00pm.

What an amazing trip for us, school staff, chaperones, and the Young Environmental Pioneers! Elemotion Foundation thanks all participants, friends, organizers, and resource people who helped make this trip possible. Everyone was delighted and energized by the experience. The Pioneers completed their activity, learned so much, and had fun. We will continue to support the young Pioneers and make a positive impact for the students and their environment.

 

 
Education for conservation at Sarubima Kanishta Vidyalaya School
 
On October 12th, 2019, Elemotion Foundation and friends spent a day of art and environmental learning with the children of the Sarubima Kanishta Vidyalaya School. The school is located in the Polonnaruwa district and close to Wasgomuwa National Park in central Sri Lanka. Human elephant conflict is high in this region. In fact, the Sarubima Kanishta Vidyalaya school day has a delayed start by 30 minutes in order to allow the children better visibility and safer passage through elephant infested forests. About 170 children attend this school with sixteen teachers and grades 1st-11th.

The day began with a welcome and presentations from staff at the Wasgomuwa National Park and Giritale Wildlife Training Center. The children were accompanied by their science, art, and geography teachers. The day’s main topic was the environmental services of trees. While the interactive discussion was going on, our friend and professional artist Dharshana Karunathilake drew the main facts on paper which was shared later. The children enjoyed learning about the environmental services of trees in the auditorium and going outside with the ranger staff to appreciate these special tree features.

The next activity was centered around drawing the trees, but with a twist! The artist Dharshana gave the children three possible topics. 1. Directly draw the tree(s) 2. Draw what you feel when you see a tree (This was an interesting way to approach the topic) 3. Draw the tree’s environmental services. Even the adults enjoyed drawing this time! During the hour and half activity, Elemotion Foundation’s country representative, Dr. Deepani Jayantha, visited with the children, discussed their art, and listened to their ideas about the kind of work they’d like to do when they grow up.

After lunch, the children hopped on jeeps and went on safari in the national park. They saw over 100 wild elephants! At the camping area on the River Mahaweli, they had a break from the bumpy jeeps and had fun running around. Just before it started raining, staff had time to hand out gifts and certificates. Each grade had 1st-5th place finishes and all children got certificates of participation. Thank you notes were made and everyone left the park by 6:00pm.

Elemotion Foundation would like to thank the participating children and teachers at Sarubima Kanishta Vidyalaya School, our great ranger friends at Giritale Wildlife Training Center and Wasgomuwa National Park, and artist Dharshana Karunathilake. Elemotion Foundation is so grateful for the team spirit and collaboration for these school programs. We hope our continuing ‘Education for Conservation’ initiative will make a better future for the children, their communities, and local environment.

 
World Children’s Day Field Trip to Colombo
 
October 1st is World Children’s Day in Sri Lanka. To mark this occasion, Elemotion Foundation welcomed children from the Galoya Handiya School on a fantastic field trip to Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital. It was a full day of adventure, science, and nature. For many, it was their first trip to the capital city.

October 1st is World Children’s Day in Sri Lanka. To mark this occasion, Elemotion Foundation welcomed children from the Galoya Handiya School on a fantastic field trip to Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital. It was a full day of adventure, science, and nature. For many, it was their first trip to the capital city.

On October 5th, 2019, forty-one students accompanied by nineteen parents and teachers started their day at 2:30am. After the long journey to Colombo, the field trip began with a visit to the Natural History Museum. The children asked questions and were intrigued by the diversity of life on display. Of the many plant and animal exhibits, they especially enjoyed the Osteology Division which included a hanging blue whale skeleton.

A planetarium show was next on the agenda. Evolution, the solar system, and the night sky were the focuses of the show. Both kids and teachers enjoyed the 1.5hour presentation. It ended with some star gazing and a little snooze to catch up on the missed sleep. The day continued with a trip to the Beddagana Wetland Park where butterflies were the main theme. Lunch followed and was kindly sponsored by a good friend. After eating, a staff member spoke about the park’s wildlife and handed out an educational leaflet. Then, one of the leading butterfly specialists in Sri Lanka, Himesh Jayasinghe, led the group through a wetland walk introducing most of the trees around, explaining their ecological services, and identifying their importance to butterflies. The students had the opportunity to see several butterfly and caterpillar species, their host plants, and also a few birds. It was certainly an eye opener for the kids! After thanking the management, the children hopped on their transportation sponsored by VegVoyages and headed home. A stop was made at Kelaniya Temple on the way back.

Elemotion Foundation would like to thank the principal and participating teachers and parents of the Galoya Handiya School for making this amazing field trip possible! Elemotion Foundation was represented by Dr. Deepani Jayantha and was joined by our great friends, Anil Vithanage and Shenya de Silva. We would also like to thank VegVoyages for providing transportation, Priyanka de Silva for sponsoring lunch, and other friends who gave us a helping hand on this field trip with their kindness and expertise. What an exciting way to celebrate World Children’s Day!

 

 
Rathambalagama Environmental Pioneers Art Exhibit
 
On September 11, 2019, the Young Environmental Pioneer art exhibit opened at the Rathambalagama school, located near Udawalawe National Park in southern Sri Lanka. Forty children participating the Young Environmental Pioneer Program created their entries in July with art supplies furnished by Elemotion Foundation. The conservation art themes included topics such as habitat destruction and wildlife preservation.

The exhibit was declared open by Elemotion Foundation. Activities were guided and organized by the school principal, art teacher, and Environmental Pioneer Brigade lead teacher with parents and villagers in attendance. Afterwards, discussions were held among the adults about conservation issues. And, the school’s greening efforts were shown, including fruit trees (oranges, mangoes, and promegranate)! The trees will be looked after by the Pioneer kids, and proceeds will go towards the school’s budget.

 

 
Environmental Pioneers Program at Rathambalagama
 
On March 22nd, 2019 Elemotion Foundation sponsored a conservation program for 25 students from Rathambalagama School participating in the Environmental Pioneers Program. Approved by the Ministry of Education and set up by the Central Environmental Authority, the Environmental Pioneers Program is an activity based curriculum allowing students to learn about the environment while competing for medals. Elemotion Foundation was happy to sponsor one such activity for an Environmental Pioneer President Award at the Udawalawe National Park.

The day started for the students, three teachers, and two parents with an early transfer from Rathambalagama to Udawalawe National Park. The group brought with them an environmentally friendly breakfast with the aim of reducing plastic. Then, Elemotion Foundation’s Sri Lanka country representative, Dr. Deepani Jayantha began the first interactive session by asking the students to focus on the habitat, ecology, and ethnobotanic uses of a tree. The discussions were joined by another Udawalawe based conservationist and a ranger.

After a short break and a welcome from the Udawalawe National Park warden, Ranger Saman Liyanangama spoke about the history, main features, biodiversity, management, and conservation threats of the park. Next, the young Environmental Pioneers climbed into jeeps and enjoyed a safari in the park. The children used a park guidebook to identify species and enjoyed observing the wildlife. They even spotted a rare jungle cat! Elephants were seen at the end of the safari near one of our previous project areas; a large plot of land that we helped the park rangers clear of an invasive plant species. The day ended with a treat and tea at the rangers’ station.

Elemotion Foundation enjoyed our day with the 25 Environmental Pioneers. We were happy to help them achieve their program goals, learn more about the national park next to their village, and inspire them with an impactful conservation day.

 

 
World Wildlife Day at Giritale and Wasgomuwa National Park
 
World Wildlife Day was celebrated March 3rd, 2019. Ranger Amila Jayawardhane of the National Wildlife Training Center in Giritale organized a special activity to mark the event. Thirty students in grade ten from three Polonnaruwa area schools were invited to send environmental themed artwork to be judged by a committee of Department of Wildlife Conservation staff and art teachers.

On March 8th, these students and their teachers were invited to visit Giritale National Wildlife Training Center and the Wasgomuwa National Park for a day of fun, education, art, and conservation. The morning included a tour of the training center’s museum and a chat about the importance of World Wildlife Day. We were delighted to hear the teachers suggest doing a garbage clean up of wilderness habitats. In Sri Lanka, the Polonnaruwa area has the highest rate of elephant deaths due to complications from ingesting garbage.

The day continued with a welcome from Wasgomuwa’s park warden and a chat about the park’s history and biodiversity. Our friend, artist Dharshana Karunathilake gave the children an art lesson, and a fun drawing activity with pastels to sharpen their skills. Ranger Jayawardhane spoke about the importance of bees in the environment.

After lunch, the kids enjoyed a safari into Wasgomuwa National Park. They observed different habitats, many resident and migratory birds, and lots of elephants. Inside the park on the banks of River Mahaweli, the art contest winners and participants were awarded gifts of stationary, certificates, and an art workbook. Elemotion Foundation contributed to the gifts and part of the transportation. The day finished around 6pm. Seeing elephants in the dusk on the return trip was a thrilling experience!

Elemotion Foundation was very happy to be invited to participate and contribute to this World Wildlife Day celebration. A special thank you to all those who contributed, organized, led the activities including Ranger Jayawardhane, Park Warden Pathirana, artist/cartoonist artist Dharshana Karunathilake, Giritale training center staff, and our own country representative Dr. Deepani Jayantha.

 

 
Book donation for Galoya Handiya School
 
In October 2018, Elemotion Foundation continued our conservation work with the children of Galoya Handiya Secondary School with a donation of over 350 books for the school library! Reading helps children use their imaginations while improving comprehension and language skills. Our donation has greatly expanded the amount of available books in the school library. The children will be able to read the books during their weekly library time, and check out two books per week. Four colorful, comfy mats were also donated for the children to sit on while reading in the library.

Our donation coincided with a school event to honor two students for academic and sports excellence. About 55 children and 25 mothers attended the ceremony. The principal also displayed the children’s artwork from a previous elephant themed art competition conducted by Elemotion Foundation. We are looking forward to organizing the next art camp and elephant conservation themed art project with the children.

 

 

School Conservation Programs at Lunugamvehera
 
In March 2018, Elemotion Foundation teamed up with the Lunugamvehera National Park to conduct our first conservation program at the Thanamalwila Central School. Lunugamvehera National Park is located in southern Sri Lanka, in between Udawalawe and Yala parks. The villagers living around the park must deal with Human-elephant conflict. Poaching, mostly for bushmeat, is also a main concern at the park.

The school program was attended by 50 children, plus school staff. Elemotion Foundation’s country representative, Dr. Deepani Jayantha, started with a fun and informative discussion about Human-elephant conflict. Her discussion was followed by a venomous snakes presentation conducted by a Lunugamvehera Park ranger. The children were interactive, enjoyed the presentations, and were curious to learn about these two important topics.

Elemotion Foundation thanks the Thanamalwila Central School’s principal and teachers as well as the Lunugamvehera National Park staff. We will team up together again later this year for more school activities.

 

 

Children’s Art Contest ‘Elephants, Forest, and Us’

In December 2017, Elemotion Foundation sponsored a children’s art contest entitled ‘Elephants, Forest, and Us’. It was held at the Galoya Handiya Secondary School, located near Kaudulla National Park. We were delighted to have the school, National Park staff, a local artist, and a great team of conservationists, join us for the contest, judging, and final exhibition.

The children of Galoya Handiya school live in villages surrounded by wild elephant protected areas. These families must deal with Human-elephant conflict, a growing elephant tourism industry, and even train collisions; all themes reflected in the children’s artwork. The art contest is a great way for the children to express their views, ignite passion for conservation, and continue learning about the importance of wildlife in their lives.

There were 57 participants from grades 1 – 10. The artwork was judged by a senior wildlife artist, an art director from the Education Ministry, and Elemotion Foundations’s Sri Lankan country representative. Five winning artworks were chosen from three age brackets.

The awards presentation and art exhibition was held at Kaudulla National Park on March 16, 2018. The Kaudulla National Park staff graciously provided the venue for the event. Contestants artwork was mounted and hung for the exhibition. The children and parents were delighted to see the artwork on display. The event was MC’ed by two students and included several speakers.

All contestants received certificates of participation designed by Elemotion Foundation and signed by the art judge, Kaudulla National Park’s warden, and Elemotion Foundation’s Sri Lankan country representative. A Kaudulla park ranger and organizer procured new school backpacks for the winners and boxes of pastels for children who did not receive a prize. Winners also received books chosen especially for the individual student by Elemotion Foundation’s country representative. Book themes included art, science, animals, and travel.

Elemotion Foundation would like to thank the Galoya Handiya principal and staff, the Kaudulla National Park’s warden and staff, Wildlife Department ranger Anil Vithanage, artist and cartoonist Dharshana Karunathilake, Herpetologist Sameera Karunarathna, Elemotion Foundation Volunteer Shenya de Silva, our friend and driver Wasana Perera, and Elemotion Foundation’s Country Representative Dr. Deepani Jayantha.

Elemotion Foundation is planning an art camp this summer with Galoya Handiya Secondary School to continue to build on the children’s art skills while promoting wildlife and elephant conservation.

 

 

Galoya Handiya Secondary School Nature Activities

In Sri Lanka, October 1st is World Children’s Day. To commemorate the celebration, Elemotion Foundation sponsored a host of nature activities with 45 school children and 12 staff from the Galoya Handiya Secondary School. The school is surrounded by protected nature areas near Kaudulla National Park.

Elemotion Foundation had an amazing team of good friends and conservationists for the school program. Joining us were: Herpetologist Sameera Karunarathna, Ornithologist Dulan Vidanapathirana, Naturalist Gayan Wijethunga, and Elemotion’s Country Representative Dr. Deepani Jayantha.

Each team member conducted activities with groups of children divided by grade levels. Activities centered around nature, environment, conservation, sustainability, wildlife, and of course, elephants. Coloring, math, games, crafts, and more activities made the topics fun. Snacks and a yummy cake were donated to the kids too.

Elemotion Foundation would like to continue to work with this school to promote wildlife and elephant conservation.

 

 

School-Park Clean-up and Awareness Programs
 
Park clean upTrash in and around a nature reserve damages the ecosystem, the same ecosystem both wildlife and locals depend on. In 2015-2016, Elemotion Foundation sponsored two clean-up and awareness programs with local schools near Udawalawe National Park. We united local school children and the park staff to clean up the borders of the park. Working side by side, the trash gets picked up, and the children learn about the importance of keeping their environment clean!

The children enjoy the hard work, have lunch, and each child receives a certificate on behalf of Elemotion Foundation and the park for their participation.

 

 

Library for Kivul Ara Primary School
New library is open!, 11/13
Kivul Ara Primary School, located in southern Sri Lanka, serves four villages and has sixty-one students, grades 1st through 5th.  The villages border a protected wildlife reserve, and elephants frequently roam over the border.  99% of the families at the school are farmers, mostly illiterate, and dependent on their crops for income.  In this area, wild elephants raid crops, damage property, and scare the villagers on a weekly basis.

In 2013, we funded the construction of a library for the modest two-room schoolhouse. Construction lasted about 6months and was completed in spring 2014. Finishing touches, furnishings, and stocking the library was complete in early 2016. During this time, Elemotion Foundation also conducted several conservation related programs with the school children.

The library is currently in use and became the first structure to be built since the school opened nearly 12 years ago. The library building adds a needed extra room to the school and helps instill a love of reading in the children. It gives them quiet place to read, concentrate, and study. It also serves as a safe place to store English and Sinhalese books.

 

 

Kivul Ara book donationSinhala books
 
February 2016. As part of our on-going work at Kivul Ara Primary School, Elemotion Foundation donated a printer, teacher’s chairs, 2 shelving units, and a computer table. We also donated 50,000LKR towards books for the library. The photo shows the 125 Sinhala books already purchased and donated. English books were purchased in Colombo and donated in March.

 

 

Dogstar activities, desks and chairs for Kivul Ara Primary School

Dogstar donationJune 2014. On this visit, we delivered a very special donation. Dogstar Foundation, an animal welfare charity best known for its amazing dog and cat sterilization, vaccination, and adoption programs in Sri Lanka, generously donated their children’s coloring books and very cool ‘Cool to be kind’ bright blue bracelets.

The fun, informative coloring book teaches the children about basic, responsible dog care. It also discusses how to be safe around street dogs. Some of the Kivul Ara children have dogs for pets, and the school grounds are home to a several street dogs. We are sure the information will be very useful.

The desks and chairs, funded by Elemotion Foundation, are completed and in use. They are painted bright blue and yellow and are featured in the photo with ‘Cool to be kind’ bracelets.

 

 

Reading Day at Kivul Ara Primary SchoolGood news

March 2014. The school invited Elemotion Foundation to participate in a special reading day. Classes were held outside for a change. The younger children worked on simple language skills and coloring. The 4th grade class performed a traditional Sinhala fable, and the 5th grade class presented their book reports in English.

We enjoyed spending this day with the staff and children. We donated watercolor paints and english language animal flashcards. On this visit, we also discussed the donation of funds to construct desks and chairs.