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Our environmental initiatives also extend to biodiversity conservation and ecosystem restoration. Following the establishment of a partnership with the Wilderness Conservation Trust (WWCT), AFC sponsored a project to help foster the coexistence of people and Leopards in the central highlands of Sri Lanka. The project also aims to protect 35 other identified flora and fauna species in an 18 acre ridge in the Central Highlands. The project’s progression thus far has enabled the identification of 12 fishing cats with the number of individual Leopards identified by the WWCT growing from 19 in 2018 to 28 in 2019. It has also identified areas to replant in order to replenish and expand forest cover and create the proposed peak Ridge WildLife corridor with trees which are required to improve and safeguard the natural habitats of the wildlife dwelling in the area. AFC had the rare opportunity to name two of the female leopards identified during the project as Nalah and Nina. It was heartening to witness Nina now roaming around the ridge with her new cubs.

In addition to conservation, the project also implemented initiatives to engage the neighbouring communities to support the project. One such novel initiative was to engage school children in the neighbourhood to become directly involved as ‘Forest Guardians” to save the natural resources of their neighbourhood. 20 children from Grades 6 to 11 from Dunkheld school were selected with the approval of their parents. As Forest Guardians they will participate in the Peak ridge Corridor Conservation by creating and maintaining a new butterfly garden and a Forest Plant Nursery, clearing area of plastic waste participate in programmes aimed at teaching ecology and conservation theory and methods and eventually take on the responsibility of overseeing some of the permanent, remote camera stations located on Dunkel Estate.

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