Nilanga Jayasinghe is a senior program officer for Wildlife Conservation at WWF and focuses on Asian species, particularly elephants, rhinos, tigers and snow leopards. She has extensive experience in international species conservation and has worked on conservation issues across the board in Asia, Africa and North America. Her areas of expertise include human-wildlife conflict, Asian elephants, strategic planning for conservation, protected area management, community-based conservation, capacity building, technological applications for wildlife conservation and monitoring and evaluation. She is also a member of the Asian Elephant Specialist Group (AsESG) under the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Species Survival Commission (SSC).
Prior to WWF, Nilanga gained experience in both terrestrial and marine conservation issues through her work with Defenders of Wildlife and Oceana. She developed expertise in human wildlife conflict during her time at Defenders of Wildlife where she worked on coexistence issues pertaining to North American and South American species, as well as through her volunteer work with Ewaso Lions, a lion conservation organization based in northern Kenya that addresses human-carnivore conflict through research and community engagement. In addition, Nilanga was also part of the 2007/2008 class of the Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders program through which she had the opportunity to engage in okapi conservation in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Originally from Sri Lanka, Nilanga has always had a deep love for elephants. And while she now lives and works in the US, she is thrilled to give back to conservation efforts in her home region.
“It took a budding career in environmental journalism for me to realize that it wasn’t enough just to report on stories of imperiled wildlife. I needed to have a hands-on role in conserving imperiled wildlife. That dream is my reality today.”
Asian elephants are icons of their land and gardeners of their ecosystems. They are an important part of the places they live in, but populations are declining. WWF’s Nilanga Jayasinghe, Senior Program Officer – Asian Species, reflects on the threats Asian elephants face and what WWF is doing to conserve them.