IUCN and Anantara collaborate to protect marine turtles in Sri Lanka

At a time where increasing pressure is being placed on the environment, the private sector is realising the importance of conserving natural habitats and biodiversity in order to protect the viability of their businesses. In Sri Lanka, as a symbol of their pledge to environmental responsibility, Anantara Resorts, Hotels and Spas has collaborated with IUCN to protect a variety of turtle species that inhabit the southern coastline.

Photo: © Claudia Lombard

Leatherback sea turtle. Classified as vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ 

Anantara’s first resort was established in 2001 in the coastal city of Hua Hin, Thailand. Since then they have expanded their operations globally to another 10 countries. Recognising how their properties impact the surrounding environments in which they operate, Anantara uses sustainable tourism concepts to make decisions regarding the development of new properties and changes to existing resort locations. The conservation of natural resources and positively impacting the lives of the local communities is embedded into the operation of each of their properties to ensure sustainable growth.

The Sri Lanka project, which covers 100 kilometres of the southern coastline on which the Anantara Tangalle resort is located, aims to protect marine turtles and their breeding grounds. Out of the five turtle species that nest on the beaches, three are classified as endangered on The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™.  

The project sets out to achieve its objective by enhancing the capacity, and collaborating with the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) to identify turtle nesting sites along the coastline. On the resort itself, a biodiversity survey will be conducted as a first step towards restoring turtle habitats. Additionally, hotel staff and guests will learn about turtle conservation through awareness raising activities.

This project will also incentivise the establishment of Anantara’s ‘Dollars for Deeds’ programme, in Sri Lanka. ‘Dollars for Deeds’ raises funds by encouraging guests to donate towards environmental conservation. Every dollar that is donated is matched by Anantara and used to facilitate conservation projects. Funds raised will go towards conservation efforts, including the IUCN-Anantara turtle conservation project.

“While providing local and global conservation benefits, this project will serve as a model to enhance Sri Lanka’s nature, culture and heritage-based tourism potential,” said Dr Ananda Mallawatantri, Country Representative, IUCN Sri Lanka.

Private sector engagements such as this partnership with Anantara Resorts are invaluable to the conservation efforts of IUCN. IUCN continues to seek more opportunities to collaborate with, and support businesses in advancing their sustainability agenda.

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