Kaitlyn Simmons

KSimmons adventure

Kaitlyn Simmons

My name is Kaitlyn Simmons and I'm 18 years old. I just graduated high school a semester early and am setting off on a 3 month adventure to Sri Lanka and South Africa where I will be doing wildlife conservation work.

My journey will begin in Ambalangoda, Sri Lanka for 4 weeks working at a Sea Turtle conservation to help rehabilitate and protect at-risk sea turtles while also volunteering at community development projects. The program aims to provide daily care and rehabilitation for disabled turtles with the long term goal to release back into the wild as well as protecting turtle eggs that have been stolen by local poachers.

After this I will then head to the Wasgamuwa National Park for 3 weeks to help with the education, research, and conservation of wild elephants in the area. Over the past 50 years, the elephant population in Sri Lanka has reduced substantially. Nearly 5,000 elephant deaths in this period are believed to be a direct result of the conflict that exists between humans and elephants in Sri Lanka. I will be working directly with 12 of the villages based in the Wasgamuwa area where human-elephant conflict is high, to aide with research and conservation techniques to halt the reduction of this wonderful endangered species in tandem with helping the communities and villages learn to live side by side with this amazing creature.

Lastly, I will be going to the Kwantu Private Game Reserve in Port Elizabeth, South Africa for 5 weeks. The game reserve’s education and rehabilitation center is home to a number of species of endangered predators including lions, Bengal tigers and cheetahs. The dedicated conservation team are committed to the preservation of these elusive creatures by rehabilitating them and releasing them back into the wild, while needing to consider the effects on a managed eco system. I will be working largely on a combination of land management and animal management activities such as the capturing of wildlife animals, lion and rhino monitoring, fence and anti-poach patrols, and the re-establishment of vegetation and vegetation management.

My time with the Sri Lankan Wildlife Conservation Society has been incredible so far and extremely action packed. I've already learned so much about the human-wildlife conflict that this village faces. The village where I am situated (Hettipola) has a main industry of agriculture, mostly growing rice. However, since they are situated along the boundry to the Wasgamuwa National Park, the elephants that inhabit the park pose a serious threat to the villagers. Imagine a delicious pizza filled with your favorite toppings. That's what rice is for elephants, as well as the other fruits the villagers grow. The smell of these things attracts the elephants to raid their fields as well as break down their homes where the rice is stored during harvest season. Because these people depend on these crops to make a living for ... read more
Treehut for observing elephants
Post of electric fence elephants broke down
Inside the village school

Asia » Sri Lanka » Central Province » Sigiriya March 4th 2019

On Friday I said goodbye to my last day working with the turtles. I've had an amazing time with such impressive animals and am so grateful to have been able to learn so much. Although it's been sad to see the life the disabled turtles have to live whether they were born that way or it was the cause of human activity, I'm very impressed with the work the conservation does and the over 1,000 baby turtles they've released into the sea to bring up the population. My last day consisted of giving a spa day to all the turtles! We used sand as a natural exfoliater to clean off all the algea buildup on their shells. I also got to sign my name on the volunteer wall of everyone who has contributed to the project. ... read more
Put my name on the volunteer wall!

Asia » Sri Lanka » Southern Province » Hikkaduwa February 26th 2019

I went on my first weekend trip this past weekend and had a great time! We started off driving up north to Hatares Kotuwa to go on an elephant safari. It was beautiful in the reserve and we were able to get really up close with the wild elephants. The next day we hiked up Sigiriya (Lion's Rock), which is an ancient rock fortress that's 660 ft high. King Kasyapa built his palace on top of this rock, which was abandoned after his death and used as a Buddhist monestary until the 14th century. Today it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After the hike we then went to a spice and herbal plantation where we learned a lot about all the different uses of plants as herbal medicine and got our palms read. ... read more
Lion's Rock
Baby turtle eggs

Oceans and Seas » Indian » Andaman Sea February 19th 2019

Hi everyone! Yesterday I had my first day at the sea turtle project. I was assigned to feeding for the day, so I had to cut up the fish for them which was pretty gross, but I eventually got the hang of it. They have 4 different turtle species at the conservation: green turtles, loggerhead turtles, hawksbill turtles, and leatherback turtles. However, the only type of turtle that lives in Sri Lanka are the green turtles. The others have been found and rescued while they were migrating. My favorite one so far is a green turtle named Bob. He's been at the conservation for 6 years and is around 120 years old. Sadly he can't be released because he has floater syndrome, which is caused when turtles consume too must plastic, as it looks like their ... read more

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