Wildlife Conservation through Citizen Science Participation

Timeline– 24 months

Required Funds– LKR 3,344,200

Science requires a lot of data gathering. In Sri Lanka, quite often scientists/researchers lack necessary data, mainly due to limited manpower and as such their work tends to cover limited geographical areas. This is where citizens can play a vital role in supporting to gather data and information which is necessary for the scientific community. Science is not only restricted to scientists. Any citizen who shares a passion in a certain field, and is willing to donate their time and effort, can also contribute to science. Citizen science projects act as a symbiotic relationship where both parties benefit. The public’s participation in scientific research will not only assist the scientific community by broadening their data collection but also creates an opportunity for citizens to gain knowledge and contribute towards conservation.

Citizen science projects are common in many other countries (e.g. eMammal: a global repository of camera trap data managed by the Smithsonian, eBird: an online program created by the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Celebrate Urban Birds (CUBs) project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. However, in Sri Lanka, only a handful of projects exist and are very much restricted to Colombo.

In a country like Sri Lanka, knowledge from rural communities is an important source of data. Some areas however, have limited access to smart phones and so a mobile application alone will not be an effective method of gathering data from such communities. Education programmes targeting school children is another effective approach in creating awareness on the topic of environment, encouraging the youth to actively partake in conservation initiatives.

This project aims to develop two methods where both rural and urban communities can contribute towards gathering information on fauna and flora of the country and provide this information to build a long term central database of the country’s wildlife. The scientific community can utilize such data and information to implement conservation measures to protect our country’s natural wealth.

The project will be conducted as an educational experience which will bring about an environmentally conscious younger generation; a platform for youth to contribute to the country’s biodiversity database, which will assist with wildlife conservation.

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