Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina

Yala Leopard Project

Where in the world?

Yala National Park is the second largest and most visited National park in Sri Lanka. It is situated in the southeast region of the country, and covers 979 square kilometres. It had originally had been designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1900, and was one of the first two national parks in Sri Lanka, having been designated in 1938. The park has one of the highest densities of leopards in the world.

What are we trying to do?

The dense population of leopards has pushed young leopards outside the park's boundaries to look for new territories. As the Chena cultivations and cattle farmers live adjacent to the park's buffer zones, the predators often come into contact with villagers and their livestock with casualties on both sides. Leopards prey on young cattle corralled in flimsy wooden pens for overnight protection. There are instances where a single leopard can cause multiple kills on young calves which leads to revenge attacks by farmers who often poison the leopards with their kills. This conflict is estimated to claim up to 20 leopards around the periphery of Yala Park annually, to say nothing of the financial loss to the farmers. Exodus have pledged to raise enough funds to supply the cattle farmers with steel pens that will safeguard their cattle through the night.

How did we set it up?

This project was set up by our resident Award winning photographer and leader Paul Goldstein, who set up the first Whale and Leopard watching trip which ran earlier this year.

What do we want to achieve this year?

The immediate need is for 20 cattle pens to be supplied to local farmers as quickly as possible. The cattle pens cost $600 each to make, and they are made locally providing much needed employment. So often with sustainable projects, there are many stumbling blocks, many of them bureaucratic, that hinder development. Not in this case. It is a simple solution that will sustain the leopard population, increase the cattle one and also show that Exodus travellers want more and are prepared to contribute more than just crossing off a spotted species on their clinical checklist.