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Environmental Research and Education Center and Animal Rescue and Rehabilitaion Centre, Hiyare, Galle

Environmental Research and Education Center and Animal Rescue and Rehabilitaion Centre, Hiyare, Galle

The Wildlife Conservation Society Galle (WCSG) currently operates an education and research center, as well as an animal rescue and rehabilitation center, situated in the Hiyare Reservoir Rain Forest. This forest area, bordering the Hiyare Reservoir in the Galle district of Sri Lanka, stands out as one of the most beautiful stretches with high species richness and endemism in the country. The Hiyare Reservoir and the surrounding land are under the administration of the Galle Municipal Council while the much larger forest reserve is administered by the Forest Department. 

The Environmental Research and Education Center in Hiyare, Galle, was established as the base for the Wildlife Conservation Society Galle (WCSG) in 2007. This center comprises a research laboratory, a lecture hall, and a dormitory. These facilities are primarily utilized for hosting education and awareness programs designed for school children, university students, and the general public. Additionally, they play a crucial role in hosting wildlife and environmental research. Notably, this facility serves as an invaluable hub equipped with all the necessary logistics, specifically supporting Ph.D. students engaged in full-time research on various ecological aspects of the southern-western flora and fauna in the country.

The Wildlife Conservation Society Galle (WCSG) takes pride in successfully operating one of Sri Lanka’s reputed and successful animal rescue and rehabilitation centers. The animal rescue program was initiated by the Wildlife Conservation Society Galle (WCSG) in 2008 on a site next to a fragmented forest patch. This initiative is under the supervision of the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) and is sponsored by a local bank (NTB). 

In 2011, the program reached a significant milestone with the establishment of an animal hospital. The primary objectives of this hospital include rescuing, rehabilitating, and releasing sick and injured wild animals back into their natural habitats. The facility operates in close collaboration with the DWC’s field office situated in another township in Galle, specifically Hikkaduwa. This collaborative effort underscores the commitment to wildlife conservation and the preservation of the region’s diverse ecosystems.

The rescue center annually receives approximately 400 wild animals, injured due to various reasons such as electrocution, road accidents, and other animal attacks. Among the successfully rehabilitated and released animals to date are mammals like the purple-faced leaf monkey, rusty-spotted cat, fishing cat, golden palm civet, pangolin, hog deer, and sambar deer. Additionally, the center has played a vital role in rehabilitating and releasing various bird species, including eagles and owls, as well as reptiles such as pythons.

The rehabilitation process may extend up to six months, allowing the dedicated team to ensure the animals are fully prepared for survival in the wild. In instances where rescued animals are mere weeks old, the caretakers take on the role of foster parents, diligently hand-feeding them until they reach a more mature stage

The rescue center places special emphasis on the care of hog deer. This diminutive deer species is thought to have been brought to Sri Lanka from the Indian subcontinent during the colonial era, subsequently adapting and establishing a population near Galle. After being presumed extinct in the area, it was rediscovered two decades ago. Presently, WCSG manages a dedicated rehabilitation facility for hog deer situated on a nearby islet.

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