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Gal Oya Research Station


The 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 movement in and around this patch forest and document changes with time, as the environment is regenerated. This fits in well with the WWCT's 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, is also improved. 

  • To establish a leopard population survey within the larger Gal Oya/Nilgala complex.

Very 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 of Gal Oya Lodge
View over the waste wilderness of the Gal Oya Complex. Images courtesy of Gal 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 63000ha 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.

The WWCT’s ongoing research within this complex which includes the Gal Oya National Park aims to specifically document the presence, distribution, and land-use of Sri Lanka’s endangered apex predator – the leopard. It is part of ongoing island-wide research that is being carried out within Sri Lanka’s National Parks, as well as in non-protected mixed habitat landscapes. In addition, the island’s other three cats – the fishing cat, the jungle cat, and the rusty-spotted cat – as well as general mammal abundance is also being assessed.

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