This project is located close to the local fisheries port in the quaint, oceanside town of Ambalangoda. Fishing is one of the major industries in Ambalangoda and there is increasing concern for the sea turtle populations that are affected. The two main issues that sea turtles face are human consumption, as turtle eggs are a delicacy in Sri Lanka, and harm caused during net captures, which leads to their inability to survive in the wild.
The center's goal is to rescue and protect these sea turtles. They work closely with the Sri Lankan Wildlife department, which sets the rules and regulations for all conservation programs. The department has awarded the center a license to care for the disabled turtles and they are currently the only organization in Sri Lanka to have this right. Often the disabled turtles come through the Wildlife department and their main veterinarian gives the center's local veterinarian instructions on how to take care of each turtle.
What's not Included
Sri Lanka is a small, island country southeast of India in the Indian Ocean. The geography of Sri Lanka is remarkable, as you can be in alpine jungle one day, on top of a mountain overlooking tea plantations the next, visiting ancient historical sites with giant Buddha statues carved out of rock, and then be on the beach swimming in the warm waters of the Indian ocean. The people of Sri Lanka are warm and inviting, ready to share their country and open their hearts to those who come to visit. A trip to Sri Lanka is like none other and your heart will open to the land and the people who live there.
Orientation Week (Included):
This is the first step towards a great stay in an exciting new country! It's an action-packed and fun-filled week in Kandy that is dedicated to introducing you to Sri Lanka and all its cultural aspects with a firsthand, live-in experience. You will also have time to meet local people, taste the local cuisine and get familiar with Sri Lankan customs.
On this project, you will work closely with local partners in the rescue and rehabilitation of injured sea turtles. This is achieved through both direct care of injured and disabled turtles, as well as enhancing awareness among fishermen and local communities, and releasing baby hatchlings into the sea.
You will spend much of your days on the beach caring for the sea turtles that have been rescued and are now living in the project site. These include four of the local species of turtles: Green, Hawksbill, Loggerhead and Olive Ridley Turtles.
Responsibilities may include:
- Feeding the turtles
- Cleaning their water tanks
- Taking the turtles out of their tanks to spend time with them on the beach
- Collecting turtle eggs and bringing them to a safe location for them to hatch
- Re-releasing hatched baby turtles into the sea
- Giving talks to educational and tourist groups who come to visit the project
- Beach maintenance
Please Note: Volunteers may not use sunscreen or any other chemicals on parts of their skin which touch the water or turtles. Participants with open injuries in their hands also should not work with the turtles directly, as infections may occur.
Cultural Note: Due to cultural norms of Sri Lanka, participants are required to remove any body piercings and cover all visible tattoos while at the project site.
Please take note of the project's minimum requirements:
- Good physical fitness
- Immunizations (please consult your doctor)
- Ability to work in a team
- Willing to work hard and get your hands dirty
- Police clearance form
Sri Lanka is a paradise for travelers; the island has tremendous sites to visit and the friendliest people, who are always helpful and smiling. Sri Lanka really has it all, ancient cultural sites, jungle and rain forest, mountains, wildlife and the beach. In Sri Lanka there is something for everyone.
A visit to the cultural triangle is a must; you can visit many of the country's UNESCO World Heritage sites here. The cave temples of Dambulla offer not only views all the way to Sigirya but also giant Buddha statues. The statues were carved from stone over 2,000 years ago and are housed in ancient caves on top of a mountain, towering 160 meters over the surrounding jungle. Sigirya, the ancient mountaintop palace that dates back more than 1,500 years, is a great day trip; you will climb thousands of stairs to reach the top but it is worth it for the 360 degree view of the jungle below, the rock paintings of beautiful maidens halfway up the climb, and the ruins of the giant lion statue that once guarded the entrance to the upper palace. Visiting the ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa are great highlights of this part of the country. Visiting these sites will give you a glimpse into life in ancient Sri Lanka and the importance of Buddhism to its culture. In these sites you are able to see some of the most spectacular Buddha statues and Pagodas that have been discovered in this part of the world.
After visiting the cultural sites of Sri Lanka, spending some time in nature is a must. There are many national parks where you can spend time hiking, relaxing by waterfalls, and maybe even see an elephant or two. Climbing up Sri Pada (Adam’s Peak) is a great challenge but worth the hard work. Sri Pada is a place of pilgrimage for Sri Lankans; the mountain holds great significance for Buddhists, as a foot print of Buddha is believed to be on the top of the mountain. Some people who are not Buddhist believe that the footprint belongs to Adam and that the top of this mountain is the place where he first touched the earth, giving the mountain the name Adam’s Peak.
Finally, don’t forget about all the fun you can have on the beach including surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving and whale watching. Sri Lanka offers all of the tourist opportunities for a fabulous vacation. Ambalangoda is Sri Lanka’s home to the ancient art of mask making and a visit to the mask museum is a must while you are there. From Ambalangoda you are close to Galle, another UNESCO World Heritage site and other beach towns worth visiting for their crystal clear warm waters and local culture.
Program Add-Ons (Not Included)
After your volunteer placement you can join one of the following program add-ons (book following registration):
Tropical beach week: Spend an entire week on some of Southern Sri Lanka’s most beautiful beaches. The mornings are packed with exciting activities, such as a river safari on the Madu Gaga where you may be able to sight a few crocodiles or a trip to Cinnamon Island to see some island temples and mangroves. You will also visit the Galle Fort which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and see South Asia’s largest sleeping Buddha statue. Your outings for the week also include a trip to the mask factory and the museum. You will have the afternoons and evenings off to spend at the beach.
Yoga and meditation week: Indulge in a week designed to relax the body and soothe the mind. This week combines Yoga and Meditation with Ayurvedic treatments. This week will teach you the basics of Yoga and Meditation and also educate you about the human body. The techniques taught here form the basics of Yoga and Meditation, but as with any form of exercise it is not a magic formula. The benefits can be reaped only by continuously practicing it and by making a conscious change in lifestyle.