The Gal Oya Research Station
Jim Edwards Research and Conservation Station is situated within the property
of the Gal Oya Lodge and is set up in memory of the late Jim Edwards of Tiger
Tops, Nepal. WWCT was invited to be the
primary scientists in residence at this Research Station and we have now begun
work within this patch forest. The main
scope of our work here will be twofold:
- To monitor
biodiversity and wildlife movements in and around this patch forest and
document changes with time, as the environment is regenerated. This fits in
well with WWCTs forest connections project, whereby the importance of small
patch forests are documented and monitored for leopard and other wildcat
presence. Forest connectivity for
wildlife between these patch forests and larger forested areas, both protected
and unprotected, are also improved.
- To establish a leopard population survey within
the larger Gal Oya/Nilgala complex.
little research work has been conducted in this important and little studied
wilderness area of Sri Lanka. WWCT is glad to have a base and partnership with
the Jim Edwards Research and Conservation Station to begin this important work.
View over the waste wilderness of the
Gal Oya Complex. Images courtesy Gall Oya Lodge
The protected areas within the Gal Oya complex, which
was established in 1954, are Gal Oya National Park (25 900ha), Senanayake
Samudraya Sanctuary, Gal Oya valley north-east Sanctuary, and Gal Oya valley
south-east Sanctuary covering 63 000ha of land.
Forming a vital watershed around the Senanayake reservoir this area of
Sri Lanka holds unique forest assemblages with habitats resembling
Savannah. A larger mixed
wilderness/plantation/chena landscape surrounds the protected area and an
elephant corridor has been demarcated to connect this area with Maduru Oya
complex to the north-west. Understanding
how wildlife with a focus on the leopard are using these corridors would be an
important finding for long-term conservation planning.