Sigiriya, the most visited historic site in Sri Lanka and its environs have become the latest example of responsible management of community canines, following the completion of the third phase of the Sigiriya Animal Protection Project by Embark.
The unique fashion brand linked to community animal welfare has reported that its team has conducted a total of 313 sterilisations, 349 vaccinations and 124 treatments over seven clinic days in the areas of Rotawewa, Inamaluwa, Digampathana and the Pidurangala Air force camp, under this phase of the project.
The project began in October 2014 and had by the end of its third phase, vaccinated 1,138 and sterilised 776 owned and community dogs as part of its commitment.
The Sigiriya project is sustained by assistance received from the Fondation Brigitte Bardot (The Brigitte Bardot Foundation) – the leading animal protection organisation in France, Best Care Animal Hospital – Embark’s veterinary partner, and Jetwing Vil Uyana. Its objectives include educating the community on responsible pet ownership, promoting compassion towards community animals and their management, and supporting national efforts to eliminate rabies.
The third phase of the project took place during a period of paddy harvesting, but large numbers of villagers found the time to bring their dogs to the clinics conducted by the Embark team. “We were blessed with sunny weather on this rotation and every community we worked with supported the project by bringing their dogs as well by helping the catching teams to catch difficult dogs,” said Dr. Subash Dhananjaya Karunaratne, the head veterinary surgeon for the project.
One of the most noteworthy learnings was how important dogs are to communities in the Sigiriya area. Embark also commended the Air Force camp for the support it extended to the project, especially because the camp area encompasses difficult terrain for catching free roaming dogs.
Embark Founder Otara Gunewardene said the success of the project gives Embark particular satisfaction, given the historical and archaeological significance of Sigiriya as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. “Sigiriya is considered one of the best preserved examples of ancient urban planning, and we are happy to help this compassionate community that cares about animals but lacks the proper veterinary care to do so,” she said. “The project received immense encouragement from tourists from around the world who identified themselves with the Embark philosophy of making a sustainable change in the way people perceive and treat street dogs.”
Embark has conducted similar projects in many parts of Sri Lanka, including in Jaffna, where the third phase of an Animal Protection Project was completed earlier this year. The fourth phase of the Jaffna Animal Protection Project is now underway.