The aim of this two year project was to identify and establish forest corridors in the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka. This project is in keeping with the overarching goal of the Wilderness & Wildlife Conservation Trust (WWCT) who aims to ensure the long-term survival of Sri Lanka’s ecosystems. The objectives of this project was twofold and heavily intertwined: to ensure the long-term viability of the island’s leopard population and by doing so, to utilize the leopard as an ecological umbrella ensuring the concurrent preservation of wider biodiversity.
After the two year project period, the results yielded from this project was extremely heartening. Highlights include;
- Identification and establishment of two new forest corridors – Western Ridge Corridor and the Elbedda Forest Corridor
- In total, 57 individuals have been detected across the three ridge areas
- 76 leopard scat samples were collected in order to obtain preliminary diet results. The results confirmed that leopards are primarily consuming wild prey as opposed to domestic species such as dogs. This is vital information in furthering the Human-Leopard Coexistence narrative. Top 3 prey species were Black-naped Hare, Barking Deer and Macaque Monkeys.
- 23 different mammals have been recorded from within the study site. Highlights include the pangolin, rusty spotted cat, fishing cat, golden jackal, stripe-necked mongoose and golden palm civet.
- 17 restoration plots, which total 260 hectares, have been carefully selected for rewilding with endemic montane species. 2 nurseries with endemic forest species continue to house harvested plant saplings and sourced saplings from nearby nurseries. The nurseries house ~500 plant saplings and 2000 seedlings are being housed within them.
- MOU’s to be in place for the Western Ridge and Elbedda Ridge signed by the end of 2022 with boundary signage to be erected.
- Due to school closures over the last 3 years, as well as estate limiting community gatherings, WWCT were unable to conduct larger community outreach and education programmes. 15 such programmes have been scheduled for 2022; yet with the on-going crisis successful implementation seems unlikely.
We are currently in the process of leveraging the successful results of this project to scale this project to encircle the highly fragmented Central Highland landscape. If you wish to be a part of this landmark project, reach out to us to learn more.