Grant Winner - Leopard Trails (Pvt) Ltd
About the Business
Leopard Trails provides a holistic, intimate safari experience in luxury tented camps, bordering the National Parks of Yala and Wilpattu in Sri Lanka. The all-inclusive package they offer guests includes air-conditioned accommodation with a focus on locally sourced cuisine. Guests go out on daily safaris into the National Park with highly trained naturalists or guides who act as nature interpreters. The guiding team become story-tellers at dusk, when guests congregate around the campfire to reminisce their exciting day spent in the dry zone jungles of Sri Lanka.
Through years of trial and error, research, and support from established training schools in Africa, the Leopard Trails team has compiled Sri Lanka’s first safari guide training course which they run once a year, free of charge, for the whole industry. They believe that this endeavour is absolutely critical for an improved guest experience and for responsible tourism – in order to avoid the practice of rushing to leopard sightings. The courses help train guides on how best they can host and interpret all aspects of the park and its wildlife to discerning travellers.
Documenting and Sharing Data about the Leopards of Yala and Wilpattu
Over the last 10 years, Leopard Trails and its founders and guides have documented leopard sightings from thousands of game drives in Yala and Wilpattu National Parks. They have learnt how to identify individual leopards with a quick technique, have named them and photographed them and established population sizes, along with family trees and their home ranges.
The team wants to make the information and media gathered available to the public via a website. They believe that it will have a significant impact on the entire wildlife experience. For example, an ethical leopard sighting (even a glimpse), along with a narrative on the leopard, and other information is well-received and better respected by guests than an unruly jeep driver speeding around a park for sightings, unable to educate or connect with their guests.
The intention is that all stakeholders invested in wildlife or tourism can learn from the information, use it to enhance the product offering and recognise the importance of protecting and conserving our natural assets. The grant will help Leopard Trails to complete the online platform, which will enable them to share information, conduct training sessions for local communities and engage with key wildlife tourism stakeholders.
“It has been an absolute pleasure and a professional experience working with Sri Lanka Tourism Alliance. The grant funding will go towards the completion of our leopard identification websites for Yala and Wilpattu, a tool that can be used by any wildlife focused property or tourism stakeholder in Sri Lanka to refer to and learn from, and understand the importance of protecting our natural heritage. It will also be used as a platform for Leopard Trails to conduct training for local communities and naturalists. Perhaps of equal importance is that it can be used by all naturalists, safari drivers and wildlife focused properties to enhance visitor experiences in Yala and Wilpattu as they delve deeper into nature interpretation.”
– Leopard Trails