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Puwathara: a Memoir of a Senior Naturalist, Zoologist and Dreamer

“I was born in a village in Kelaniya, close to the popular city of Colombo. But, growing up, and even still today, the Kelani river was what was most popular between me and my childhood friends! We’d go for river baths, fish, swim, and just shoot the breeze. Of course, you had to keep on your toes unless you wanted to lose them, as the river was home to many saltwater crocs! It wasn’t just the crocs though; our floodplains teemed with wildlife, and aquatic birds and reptiles like water monitors and water snakes thrived there. If I stayed up past my bedtime, I saw fishing cats or other pole cats like the golden palm civet, toddy cat, and ring-tailed civet just outside my window! It was truly here that I found my love for all things wild, ironically not at all in the wilderness where I live now – Udawalawe! Doing what I do today – a Senior Naturalist at Mahoora Udawalawe, national and NGO conservation volunteer, and researcher for environmental programmes at Horton Plains National Park, Peak Wilderness Sanctuary (Adam’s Peak), and Udawalawe National Park – really does feel like my love for all things wild has been requited, tenfold.”



Our policy in discouraging Animal Cruelty, Tourist Traps and Staged Tourist Shows

Animals Are Friends Too: Discouraging Animal Cruelty, Tourist Traps and Staged Tourist Shows

We at ExJ stay away from tourism experiences that are staged and involve animal cruelty and shopping traps that are contrived to exploit and deceive clients.

Even though some of the popular ‘attractions’ are not included in our programmes due to the above reasons, we have no objections in our clients making their own arrangements with our Drivers to visit these places.


Why we do not promote following attractions


Turtle Hatcheries

As this concept has serious negative aspects in terms of conservation, we do not encourage our visitors to patronize the turtle hatcheries, as not all of them are really turtle-friendly. We instead encourage them to observe turtles in their natural habitats.

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

When we became aware that the animal welfare standards there were questionable, we stopped encouraging our clients to visit the orphanage. We are pleased to observe that the Born Free Foundation has now adopted similar measures.

Elephant back rides – Habarana

There’s uncertainty surrounding the attitude of this place towards animal welfare. There may be a few ethical operators, but in general, we are not in agreement with how the place is run. We all would love a photo of us riding an elephant, but is a lifetime of pain caused to these magnificent mammals really worth a few fleeting likes on social media?

Traditional Village Tour with a Canoe Trip and Bullock-Carts – Habarana

This is a tourist trap where a lot of the trip is ‘staged’ for commercial purposes. Such fake touristic experiences will not give our visitors an idea of what life in the country is really like, so join us as we show you the real side of Sri Lanka. And at the end of every vacation, always ask yourself, “Did you feel that your holiday was ethical, eco-friendly, and reduced environmental impacts?”

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