KOSGODA Turtle Conservation and Research Centre, Kosgoda

#5 of 6 in Things to do in Kosgoda
The Kosgoda Turtle Sanctuary was launched one day in 1981 when T.S.U. De Zylva and respected doctor and avid ornithologist with Dr. R. S. B Wickremesinghe visited Kosgoda. Dr. Silva had received a grant worth US$ 30,000 from a European industrialist to use on a wildlife project. He had an idea, to build a hatchery where turtle eggs could be protected from such natural enemies as birds, crabs, dogs and human.

Dr. Silva had learned that a village patriarch by the name of Similius Abrew had a special love for turtles. If one got entangles in his fishing nets, Similius would set it free. Therefore, Dr. Silva had suggested that the grant money to build a hatchery and then pay poachers and fishermen more for their eggs than they could get selling them to eateries and markets.

Similius was not sure sure the plan would work, but agreed to give it a try. At that moment the turtles were not coming in numbers as they once did. Similius encouraged villagers to engage in the new project by helping in protection of eggs and releasing hatchlings back to the sea. So he was pretty certain that his efforts thanks to the financial strength by Dr. Silva, would bring back the glory days where turtles return Kosgoda beach in plenty.

Similius was even gratified when the youngest of his seven children joined him in his efforts. Chandrasiri Abrew helped his father since he was a seven year old kid, and as the years passed, the young man came to love the turtles too. When his father died in 1990, Abrew (Chandrasiri) had no doubts about taking over.

At first, the only visitors to the hatchery were local school children. But as tourists began to flock to Sri Lanka’s unspoiled beaches, Abrew saw an opportunity to reduce the hatchery’s dependence on funding from Dr. Silva.

By charging a small entrance fee and selling souvenirs Abrew was able to sustain the healthy operation of the hatchery in the long run. Initially, the doctor was upset; the project was intended to save turtles, not to promote tourism. But there was a deeper wisdom in Abrew’s idea, and Dr. Silva had a change of heart. He now is in full support of Abrew’s way of thinking by saying “no conservation project can survive on its own unless the people of the area get involved and derive an economic benefit from it. It’s an insight that’s beginning to spread among other conservationists as well.
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KOSGODA Turtle Conservation and Research Centre Reviews
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46 reviews
  • We were on a tour of Galle and our driver kindly took us to this Turtle Centre. Lots of Turtles - from just hatched to +100 years old ! The guys let you take some of the hatched turtles to the sea...  more »
  • We visited Sri Lanka back in Aug 2018 and this review is long overdue! We hired a car with a driver who took us from Colombo to Galle and this place was never part of our itinerary but recommended by....  more »
  • It's an amazing conservatory for injured and newly hatched turtles. The satisfaction of letting a baby turtle free though is priceless!
  • A very unique concept, saw it for the first time. The concept is good, hope its being followed as said. Really enjoyed seeing turtles for the first time and that too soo closely. Nicely maintained, bit costly on the ticket side
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