Turtle conservation in Sri Lanka

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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Turtle conservation in Sri Lanka


The decline in sea turtle numbers in Sri Lanka is made all the more unfortunate, due to the fact that they have few natural predators in adulthood. As hatchlings and eggs turtles are much more vulnerable to natural predators, but by far the largest threat to turtle numbers are humans.

Turtles and their eggs are incredibly valuable on the black market. Eggs are sold for medicinal purposes, and are often considered a delicacy. Nesting green turtle females are regularly slaughtered for their meat, and sold by poachers looking to make money.

This project aims to reverse this trend by monitoring local sea turtle activity and conserving the local nesting sites. Since its inception, the project has released over 94,000 hatchlings that may otherwise have been poached or killed.


The project also makes a difference to sea turtle conservation, and indeed community education through working with local people and school children. This increases the awareness of the sea turtle’s plight, thus reducing the threat of humans.

There is a common misconception that volunteering abroad must be a good thing and will positively benefit not just the volunteer but the host community and those involved. Unfortunately this is not always the case. The increased demand for volunteer placements in developing countries has been met by an influx of new projects and volunteer-sending organisations created purely to meet this demand. The result may cause devastating effects to local culture and result in the exploitation of both the volunteer and the host community.

This project strives to adhere to the strict Responsible Travel policy, and has been developed so that it addresses actual local needs and has the community’s needs at its heart. Understanding and respecting the host community is paramount to the success of any project as long term commitment, support and adoption of sound environment, economic and social practices. This project employs as many local people possible, making it sustainable socially as well as environmentally.

1 Reviews of Turtle conservation in Sri Lanka

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 31 Mar 2014 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Being able to release the turtle hatchlings, almost every night and watching them race towards the ocean. Also, releasing an adult turtle and being woken up at 6.00am to see two turtles that had just finished laying eggs, was something I never thought I would get to see.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Be prepared to feed the turtles, clean the tanks (do not wear nice clothes) and the turtles, to teach English, give tours and adapt to the Sri Lankan culture. It would help having basic knowledge on sea turtle species and being able to create fun lessons to teach the kids. Actually working at the hatchery is a very relaxed and pleasant environment as you are working on the beach and you get to watch the sea.

When going to the temples, make sure to wear clothing to cover your shoulders and knees, however at the hatchery, vests and shorts are fine. Make sure you bring plenty of insect repellant and possibly a small travel pillow for extra comfort in your bed.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

It did, as we are conserving the many sea turtle species, we allow eggs to develop and hatch safely and the turtles are well looked after, so when they are released, they are fit and heathly to begin their life in the wild. We would visit bars/restaurants/shops, so we were providing some income to local places. We helped some local children when we taught English.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

It was an amazing experience, I would highly recommend it. Everyone is so friendly, the food is great and you gain so much knowledge on turtle biology, ecology and their conservation. Being able to experience Sri Lanka was great as well, they have such a rich culture, it is wonderful to immerse yourself with their country.

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