Vidathaltivu Eco tourism society ( VETS) was formed with the help of UNDP, government departments and trained by WUSC. Our village consists of a rich mangrove forest and a coral island 5 km away from the mangroves. Intensive fishing activities and illegal fishing activities such as dynamiting has reduced fish catch, damaged corals. Mangrove forest also destroyed as they were used for baits to catch cuttle fish. Community has to be educated and strengthened to practice community based management practices to sustain the fish catch and alternate income sources to be developed for the income generation for the village people.
VETs was formed with 25 youth from the village and our group operates eco tourism activities such as bird watching, snorkeling for tourists creating awareness among the local fishermen to preserve the corals and mangrove areas for better fish population for sustainable fishing and creating alternative income for the fishing community . We work together with the community based fishermen societies to implement locally established no fishing area declaration , replanting and protecting mangrove forest, and management and cleaning the sea area from debris and controlling illegal fishing methods. We are campaigning to establish a MPA area in the coral island in the future.
The baobab tree at Pallimunai is the biggest known one in Sri Lanka and has a girth of 62 feet. It is said to be over 700 years old. The age of the baobabs in Mannar range between 101 and 723 years with around 40% between the ages of 300 to 400 years
An offbeat attraction, this ancient baobab tree was allegedly planted by Arab traders. It has a circumference of 20m and is believed to be over 700 years old.
Although we have not conducted the activities listed in the proposal in this programme, we have spent our time and funds to implement the preparatory activities which are highly necessary as the ecotourism programme should be conducted in collaboration with Wildlife Department (Vidathaltivu is a Nature Reserve) and the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) as the legal authority who can issue a valid tourist guide licence.
TCP provided 3 cupboards to the Vidathaltivu Ecotourism Society (VETS) to store their documents and other publications. These items were handed over to the President and Secretary of the VETS during a small ceremony held at VETS office. The aim of providing these cupboards is to further strengthen the capacity of Vidathaltivu Ecotourism Society (VETS) as a community based organisation (CBO).
Sewing Training Programme
SLTCP has initiated the community sewing training programme as a mechanism to enter the community and develop a good relationship with the community of Vidathaltivu. The programme was started with the participation of 10 benificiaries and all beneficiaries are women. During a community meeting. SLTCP requested from the community to suggest a suitable method to select the beneficiaries for the proposed sewing programme. Few of the available options we had were, request from the Divisional Secretariat to select the beneficiaries on behalf of SLTCP, a community committee selects the beneficiaries or SLTCP staff selects the beneficiaries using a criteria. Then the community members suggested that the committee members of the VETS could be used to select the beneficiaries with the assistance of the church.
Ornamental Fish Breeding Programme
TCP initiated a community ornamental fish breeding project in Vidathaltivu village in Mannar as an alternative livelihood option. So far five training programmes have been conducted by Mr. Kapurusinghe covering the topics such as fish and fisheries biology, fish breeding techniques, fish packaging and transporting, fish disease management, making and maintening of fish tanks etc.
Then SLTCP staff organized a meeting and met Dr. Lakshman Peiris and Mr. Channa Suraweera of the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) to discuss about the proposed eco-tourism development programme at Vidathaltivu.