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The Hog deer (Axis porcinus), once believed to be extinct in Sri Lanka, is now classified as critically endangered (CR). Currently, they are only recorded in a few refuge habitats in Elpitiya, Ambalangoda, and Balapitiya. Unfortunately, these Hog deer refuges are not located within protected areas. The Hog deer is primarily confined to marshy scrub jungles, often coexisting with cinnamon cultivation. However, this specific habitat poses increased threats to the Hog deer population, including poaching, attacks by feral dogs, and road kills.  

Thus, in order to conserve and protect this important element of wildlife in the south western wet zone areas of Sri Lanka., the Wildlife Conservation Society Galle (a Conservation Organization), together with Nations Trust Bank PLC Sri Lanka, one of the pioneer private banks, and the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC), has initiated a Conservation Program in 2013.

Under this conservation initiatives, we have successfully rescued and released several animals, including many juveniles and pregnant females, back into their natural habitats. While the initial stages of rescuing and releasing victims were executed effectively, we have encountered a significant rise in the number of hapless individuals. On the other hand, the primary cultivation in the species’ range, cinnamon, has experienced an increasing demand in both local and international markets. Consequently, the dramatic decline of habitats has heightened over the last decade. Faced with this challenge, we made the decision to establish a Captive Breeding Program. Our approach involves conducting this conservation program in close proximity to the Hog deer’s natural habitat, with the aim of training them to survive in their native environment.

In 2013, we initiated a joint venture with the Jeffrey Bawa Trust in Honduwa Sanctuary, an island in the Aluthgama area. Although Hog deer are not naturally found on Honduwa, it has proven to be an ideal site for the program. Additionally, our Feeding Plant Restoration Program has yielded promising results, providing natural feeds for the deer and contributing to their overall well-being. 

Since 2013, we have successfully released a total of 28 individuals back into the wild. This program marks the first captive breeding project in Sri Lanka for an endangered animal, funded by a private sector bank. Furthermore, this project was awarded as the ‘Best Environmental Project in 2016’ by Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Sciences (SLAAS).

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