Habitat conservation of globally threatened spot-billed pelicans in Sri Lanka
KANCHANA WEERAKOON RANASINGHE
To train and qualify 20 young people with no previous experience in conservation.
Project update: “The Kate’s Award-funded training programme conducted in 2008/9 was the first ever environmental conservation training programme for village youths aged between 16-28 years conducted in Sri Lanka. Twenty young people were selected from among 60 members of the group ‘Friends of Pelicans’, a project promoted by the conservation group Eco-Friendly Volunteers (ECO-V) to protect Spot-billed Pelicans and their habitats in Sri Lanka. The youths group Eco-Friendly Volunteers (ECO-V) to protect Spot-billed Pelicans and their habitats in Sri Lanka. The youths came from various educational backgrounds, though none were university students or had been exposed to considerations of environmental conservation. A six day residential training was given to the project participants. The syllabus focused on various conservation issues, national and international, and gave the participants the opportunity to learn through interactive methods. Two field trips were organized which gave the participants an experience of a life time. “According to feedback, the participants experienced unexpected attitudinal and behavioural changes towards environmental conservation. Most of them said that the training was the major changing point in their lives. Today these youths are more successful in their careers, even though not all of these are related to conservation, as the training helped them to develop interpersonal and leadership skills. Two of the participants are working as tour guides in Udawalawa National Park, one is working at a tourist hotel close to the park and another two are working as field assistants to ECO-V. ECO-V has decided to conduct a similar training course every year under the name ‘Kate Stokes Memorial Training’, following the manual we developed with Kate’s Award.” Kanchana Weerakoon