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.