NATIONAL WILDLIFE TRAINING CENTRE OF SRI LANKA
01. History of NWTC
Department of Wildlife Conversation (DWC) has been the sole government authority, vested with the responsibility of ensuring the long term conservation of Wildlife resources of Sri Lanka, since 1949.
Today, DWC is responsible for the protection and management of a comprehensive network of wildlife protected areas (WLPAs) of the country, comprised of around 92 reserves, which cover over 14% of the total land area of the country. Apart from the rich diversity of wildlife resources, nearly 45 reservoirs which provide water for agriculture and hydropower generation, together with their catchment areas, are protected within this network of WLPAs.
In face of ever increasing destruction of natural resources, long term protection of the WLPAs and the remaining jungle refuges outside, with their relic wildlife populations, was the major challenge DWC had to deal with, towards the end of 1970’s. To meet this challenge, management and the preservation of hydro-catchment areas of large scale reservoirs created under the Accelerated Mahaweli Development Project, along with the other Wildlife Protected Areas in the country, had to be done in a more scientific manner, introducing modern concepts in wildlife conservation and management. Need to augment the caliber of DWC to achieve this objective was highlighted in the TAMS report (1980), which is the Environmental Assessment of the Accelerated Mahaweli Development Project. The report further recommended that a Wildlife Management and Training Institute should be established with the following objectives.
- to train DWC staff
- to provide facilities for wildlife research
- to continue park management planning process
- to assist in wildlife capture and transport
- to monitor wildlife habitats and populations and advise on policy decisions
In early 80’s, to full fill this urgent requirement, Mahaweli Environment Project (MEP) was formulated, and implement under DWC to strengthen the capacity of the department, with the financial assistance from Untied States Agency for International Development (USAID). One of the major components of MEP was to develop the staff training and research capabilities of DWC. As recommended in the TAMS report, National Wildlife Training Centre (NWTC) at Giritale, was created under MEP and put into operation since 1992.
02. Ongoing Staff Development Programmes at NWTC
In 1993, NWTC commenced its staff training activities and details of the ongoing training programmes are briefed below.
Long Term Regular Courses - As indicated below, the three long term, regular courses are targeted at the three major levels of the DWC field cadre, Wildlife Rangers, Wildlife Range Assistants and Wildlife Guards. All these courses include class room teachings on wildlife management related subjects and number of field visits to wildlife protected areas to study various management practices and exercise field techniques. Officer trainees also visit the other line agencies such as National Zoo, Botanical Gardens, Plant Genetic Resources Centre, National Aquatic Resources Agency, etc. in order to study the ex-situ conservation practices, carried out by them.
Special Diploma Course in Wildlife Management (SDC) – This nine months residential course is designed to develop the technical capabilities of the Wildlife Rangers of all three grades. It also includes an India component, during which the participating officers will visit protected areas in India with the objective of having exposure to the current management practices on protected area management.
Senior Certificate Course in Wildlife Management (SCC) – This six months course is targeted at Range Assistants.
Junior Certificate Course (JCC) – This three months course is targeted at the Wildlife Guards.
By mid 2013, NWRTC had completed 08 SDC courses, 9 SCC courses and 30 JCC courses. Each course included 20 - 25 trainee officers and total number of wildlife officers trained is well over 1000.
Short Term Courses - An orientation programme for newly recruited wildlife officers also is being conducted at NWTC, with the objective of providing them with the necessary information and knowledge to embark on their career as a wildlife officer.
From the beginning of the year 2009, NWTC receives direct financial allocations to implement its annual training schedule, from the government of Sri Lanka, through the annual budget of DWC. In addition to the total allocation of 8 million for the training activities, additional funds are allocated for infrastructure developments.
03. Existing Training and Research Facilities
The two Hostels can accommodate a group of 50 trainee officers at a time. In addition, two bungalows are available for the visiting resource persons.
A library, A Computer laboratory comprised of 20 computers and a biological repository provides the other basic facilities for ongoing training and research activities.
03. Wildlife Museum
The wildlife museum at NWTC provides an excellent opportunity to the public to observe and study number of specimens of rare species of wild animals. Specimens of Black leopard and the albino barking deer are the most attractive among them. In addition, visitors to the museum also are provided with the basic information on the WLPA net work of Sri Lanka.