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The terrible truth behind Commercial Turtle Hatcheries in Sri Lanka

Anuruddha Bandara, Founder of Eco Team, argues that Commercial Turtle Hatcheries can do more harm than good to Sea Turtle Conservation.

In theory, it’s like a fairytale with a happy ending. Unsuspecting sea turtle mothers lay eggs in the southern beaches of Sri Lanka, but suddenly their babies are stolen by poachers for turtle egg omelettes! Luckily, turtle hatcheries swoop in and rescue the eggs, by purchasing them from poachers. They safely tuck the eggs into their protected nursery, far away from poachers and predators - like feral dogs and water monitors- until they’re ready to hatch. At the end, the hatchlings are released into the sea at sunset.

However, the reality is the terrible truth behind the fairytale most believe. These are the repercussions of Commercial Turtle Hatcheries in Sri Lanka stepping in to ‘save the day’:


Hatching rate decreases

Collecting eggs from the sea turtles’ natural nest for relocation, decreases hatching success rates from 90% in natural nests to 50 – 70% in hatcheries.


Relocating eggs could create a gender imbalance

According to the Sea Turtle Conservancy, cooler sand has a tendency to produce more males, with warmer sand producing females. The potentially higher temperatures in our hatcheries, due to overcrowding, may produce an unnaturally high ratio of females to males, which overall affects with the survival of the species.

Adversely interferes with the hatchlings’ critical stage of development

As soon as hatchlings are born, entering the sea should be allowed without interference. Many existing commercial hatcheries in Sri Lanka do not provide these conditions; they keep the hatchlings in cement tanks for weeks during tourist season.

Energy depletion in tanks decreases their survival rate

Keeping hatchlings in small tanks, swimming in circles for days or weeks, consumes their stored energy and makes them weak. After they’re eventually released, the energy they would have to swim out to the deep ocean and survive predators, is low.

Overcrowding and the spread of disease in tanks

In addition to the generally weakened state of captive hatchlings, some hatcheries don’t regularly change the tank water, leading to the spread of diseases due to unhygienic conditions. On top of that, most commercial hatcheries allow tourists to touch the hatchlings, which further increases the risk of contamination and disease.

Disrupts imprinting

Sea turtles have an imprinting mechanism when they hatch, helping them return to their natal beach to lay their own eggs someday. However, being in tanks and swimming in circles, instead of freed during that critical stage, will likely disrupt imprinting.

Profit as priority and not conservation

Hatchlings who survive the tank are usually released out to sea by the tourists who pay the hatchery to do this! Unfortunately this happens mostly during the daylight hours or in places with artificial lighting – both situations disorient and adversely affect the hatchlings.

Today, nearly all species of sea turtles are classified as endangered by the IUCN Red List High, but demand from the tourism sector abets the continued operation of commercial turtle hatcheries that do more harm than good. Though ethical and not-for-profit turtle hatcheries can contribute to real turtle conservation, we do not see any such efforts amongst the current commercial operations in Sri Lanka.





Our Team

The Brands

Our brands are as diverse as you can imagine and we have successfully managed to extend our reach to virtually every facet in the specialized tourism segments. Under our parent company Eco Team's valued guidelines, all of our brands boast an experienced and dedicated team and encompass the same principles of unmatched customer service and firm policies on environmental impact and sustainable tourism. Some of our most popular brands include:

exjlogo2 for Eco & Adventure Experiences

This is the largest brand and is the most recognized in Sri Lanka, specializing in nature, adventure and eco tourism. Operating in 24 diverse and unique locations around the island and offering 26 eco and adventure related activities, we provide fantastic opportunities to stay in alternate accommodation options such as tree houses, eco lodges and bungalows.

One of the biggest strengths we possess is the ability to offer tailor-made tour solutions for specialized segments. We have conducted programs for groups ranging from butterfly to culinary enthusiasts and architecture to history buffs, with great successes. The most sought-after tours in our portfolio are trekking, mountain biking and cycling, birding and diving.


World Class Wildlife Viewing/ Experience

We have unique wildlife tours encompassing all that Sri Lanka offers from the 'Big Five' and 10 small miracles to 33 endemic birds, including specialized programs for mammal enthusiasts, dragonfly watchers and birders. Our wildlife tours use our own tented camps spread across 11 national parks or a handpicked set of unique partner hotels.


Mahoora Tented Safari Camps

The flagship product for Eco Team and one that is in operation in all Sri Lanka's major national parks and nature reserves, this unique product offer visitors the ultimate island safari experience while basking in the lap of luxury. To suit clients with different budgets, Mahoora offers three categories of mobile camps: Explorer, Premium and Elite.



Big Game Camps and Lodges

This product offers semi permanent tented safari camps on the borders of the most popular national parks and nature reserves, with a more rustic feel. Featuring a more authentic jungle experience minus the frills, Big Game Camps and Lodges offers safari camps to suit to a more economically conscious traveler.



Experiential Journeys

In keeping with the recent changes in our business strategy, Eco Team Pvt Ltd has decided to shift their DMC business to Experiential Journeys Pvt Ltd, a new associate company of Eco Team. Eco Team will focus on Eco Tourism, Adventure and Nature-related Excursions / Experiences and Tented Camps.

Everyone who was involved in DMC operations at Eco Team is continuing to work under the Experiential Journeys banner. With the enhanced focus on the DMC business using new people, processes, back-end systems etc., EXJ is hoping to work with their partners more closely.



Fly Sri Lanka

Fly Sri Lanka is a one-stop-shop for all domestic flights, enabling travelers to take care of all their inland flight transfers with the options of chartering a plane, travelling on a seaplane or even taking a scenic helicopter ride. It is also fully equipped to deal with film crews and VIP guests.



Honeymoon Sri Lanka

Catering exclusively to newlyweds who wish to plan an unforgettable honeymoon, Honeymoon Sri Lanka focuses exclusively on promoting locations such as beaches, national parks and heritage sites as unmatched honeymoon destinations. We have carried out extensive research on the hotels we use and feature only the best properties that are suitable for honeymooners.

We know which wing of a hotel to offer and exactly which room to reserve to create the romantic and exclusive experience for our clients. Experiences like hot air balloon rides, private luxury safaris, and exclusive spa indulgences enhance the romance and richness of the tour.



Sri Lanka Day Tours

A recent addition to Eco Team's expanding portfolio, Sri Lanka Day Tours provide an exciting selection of nature, adventure and eco day activities and excursions. We offer almost all excursions possible in Sri Lanka under this brand.




Our social and conservation efforts are run in association with the Sri Lanka Wilderness Foundation(SLWF), an organisation dedicated to the conservation of Sri Lanka's most special wildlife through education and the development of sustainable tourism. Volunteer opportunities are available to work closely with our conservation units in the field and in partnership with local communities.



Beyond Boundaries 

Comprehensive MICE DMC

Beyond Boundaries is the brand name of Eco Team's MICE arm, a leading service provider of 'Meetings-Incentives-Conferences-Events' in Sri Lanka for more than a decade, backed by an experienced management team which has ably handled over 650 programmes.

Beyond Boundaries is a unique and innovative outfit, always thinking outside the box, and our ability to be extremely flexible is one our greatest strengths. A 'one-stop-shop' capable of providing turnkey solutions, Beyond Boundaries offers tailor-made programmes to meet specific client needs and provides a myriad of choices to create an effective platform to deliver a value-for-money, refreshingly new and inspiring team building event, incentive programme or conference/meeting.



Mobile Hotels

Marking the end of the era of planning tours to where the hotels are, we have created a 75 room 'mobile hotel' that could be set up anywhere in the country, within 2 to 3 weeks . We can accommodate up to 150 persons or more, together at one time, at any location in Sri Lanka, in luxury tents with 'rooms' that have a bedroom, a living area, attached toilet with hot and cold water. Giving guests the best of both worlds, these 'mobile hotels' can be set up at the heart of wilderness – on a location of their choice right across Sri Lanka. From a remote beach on the East Coast, arid scrub jungle in the North, an isolated reservoir in the central plains to lush forests in the South; the choice is as vast as our island's diversity.


CSR Efforts

As a company committed to sustainable tourism and social responsibility, Eco Team is involved in a number of CSR efforts, including varied conservation and community development projects. With a strong belief in embedding 'travelling responsibly' in all forms of travel, we minimize or offset the environmental impact created by our tourism ventures.

Eco Team established the Sri Lanka Wilderness Foundation in order to expand our efforts to wider spectrum. Under this purview, the Sri Lanka Wilderness Foundation has initiated new CSR programmes including Rainforest Reforestation and Carbon Offsetting, Human-Leopard Conflict Management, Marine Turtles and Elephant Conservation. Our partners and clients are able to be part of these exciting and noble projects.



Press Reviews

Press Release: Eco Team Champions Eco and Adventure Tourism with Travelife Partner Status

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Creating exceptional experiences that transform guests’ lives is a tall order. Going beyond, blending authentic tailor-made journeys while maintaining a healthy balance of caring for the land, wildlife and people is a fitting ethos for Sri Lanka’s oldest and largest diversified eco adventure company, the Eco Team.

Recognising Eco Team’s unique pioneering spirit and commitment to measurable sustainability, Travelife awarded the company partner status a year ago. As Eco Team celebrates the first anniversary of this unique achievement, it remains the only eco and adventure tourism entity in the country to be accredited as a partner by Travelife.

“At the core of our success is a vision that puts guests, our land and communities at the heart of our business. In our quest for a holistic approach to sustainable tourism the Travelife partner status helps us improve our own practices, while serving to inspire travellers and all those involved in the industry to support responsible and ethical tourism,” said Anuruddha Bandara, CEO, Eco Team.

Travelife is a leading training, management and certification initiative for tourism companies that are committed to sustainability. It provides companies with realistic sustainability goals, tools and solutions to implement positive change within their businesses and supply chains. Travelife is managed by the Travel Association in the UK and by European Centre for Ecological and Agricultural Tourism (ECEAT), ECEAT Projects - a not-for-profit organisation based in The Netherlands.

While striving to help improve standards for responsible travel and sustainable tourism, by obtaining Travelife partner status, Eco Team also ensures stringent standards on various aspects of the business. This mainly includes focusing on providing service delivery to guests with minimal negative impact on the environment and communities. Travelife consistently evaluates all aspects of service provision to ensure standards are met.

Consciously seeking ways to positively impact the environment, the Eco Team has also pioneered intuitive initiatives such as introducing glass bottles at all at all Tented Safari Camps that Eco Team manages, recycling aluminium and metal, paper and cardboard and PET bottles.

While demonstrating meaningful and lasting benefits for the natural environment and communities that surround its operations, Eco Team’s signature blend of natural luxury camps Mahoora and Big Game are included within this accreditation. Mahoora was the first to receive this status in the first quarter of 2017.

Notably, Mahoora and Big Game Camping have remained carbon neutral since early-2012 while Eco Team’s three main sites of Mahoora and Big Game camping located at Wilpattu, Yala and Udawalawe aim to be fully-solar powered by October 2018.

Founded two decades ago, as a pioneering eco and adventure tourism company, Eco Team has today emerged as a specialist, changing the industry landscape tourism through many other niche segments.

Eco Team’s unique brands such as,, and Sri Lanka Day Tours together harmoniously provide a signature blend of experiential travel than cannot be matched, its associated

Experiential Journeys (, Beyond Boundaries Global  (, Fly Sri Lanka (, Sri Lanka Wilderness Foundation, the company’s CSR arm ( are other subsidiary entities that contribute towards redefining the journey.

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Press Release: Eco Team appointed as dealer for world-class Swarovski Binoculars

z pvi Eco Team a01Eco Team recently signed a partnership with Swarovski Optik to market their world-class product range of binoculars, spotting scopes and accessories.

The world’s best optic brand for nature observation “Swarovski Optik” brings people closer to nature so that they can truly experience the preciousness of the moment and see the unseen.

Speaking on the partnership, Anuruddha Bandara the Founder and Chief Experience Office at Eco Team said, “We are indeed proud to be appointed as the exclusive authorized dealer to market the prestigious Swarovski range. These high-end products are an investment of a lifetime because of their quality and precision.

Swarovski has been trusted by some of the most famous wildlife warriors around the world. Through this partnership Sri Lankans now have the opportunity to purchase Swarovski products at competitive prices and can also get existing equipment serviced.”

The beauty of nature is best experienced firsthand. Sri Lanka despite being a small island is blessed with bio-diversity that ranges from lush green mountains to rain forests, arid dry zones and of course the endless blue ocean that surrounds us. These Eco systems have their own abundance of flora and fauna that have drawn many locals and thousands of tourists from around the globe to the Pearl of the Indian Ocean.

b5293ac73ddb0507d4a1f442fff9faba 343x147With mammals like the majestic Asian elephant, elusive leopard, crocodiles, regal peacocks and more Sri Lanka has evolved in to a nature lover’s haven. Eco Team, one of the pioneers of experience based nature tourism has been in the business of promoting Sri Lanka as a wildlife paradise for more than 17 years.

The company was also instrumental in introducing the concept of tented safaris with their “Mahoora” Tented Campsite, Big Games Camp and the recently opened Ahas Pokuna Bush Walks Camp.

Swarovski’s entire product range will be available in Sri Lanka through Eco Team. As at now there are special offers for the Sri Lanka Wildlife & Nature Protection Society and its members. HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank credit card holders could purchase products on a 5 year no interest easy payment scheme. Eco Team will come up with similar offers for other wildlife and birding societies in Sri Lanka and will look at tie-ups with other local banks for easy payment schemes.

Promoted globally as the “must-have” products for all tour guides, nature-based resorts and adventure tourists, Swarovski Optik is a perfect addition for nature trails, bird watching, hikes, and safaris.

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Press Release: Eco Team Facilitates Running Wild with Bear Grylls

Colombo, Friday 15th September 2017: When it comes to adventure and survival in the wild, no one does it better than Bear Grylls. Amongst all of the adventure experiences that he has created for millions of fans over the world, is an episode of Running Wild that was actually filmed in Sri Lanka. Premier outdoor and eco-tourism solutions provider Eco Team was on hand to make sure the experience of Sri Lanka for the cast and crew was a truly extraordinary one.

Eco Team was the official logistics provider for this episode of Running Wild featuring Mike Horn and Matt Pokora in the Samanala Wewa region. The area which is more than 10km away from human inhabitancy meant that the cast and crew had to trek with all their equipment. The film crew also camped in the great outdoors in close proximity to wild elephants and other animals. To ensure that the smooth operations of filming this episode, Eco Team put together a logistics crew of close to 75 members.

Speaking on this significant feat Founder and Chief Experience Officer of Eco Team Anurudhdha Bandara said, “Efficiency is of high importance in such situations as time and resources are very limited. Food and drinks had to be provided for the crew from a distance of more than 6km away, merely on foot and this is no easy task but Eco Team was equipped with the labour, facilities and equipment needed to complete this challenge. In creating an adventure programme watched by millions around the world, Eco Team had an adventure of our own making sure that the team truly experienced Sri Lanka.”

First broadcasted in the year 2014, featuring famous High School Musical movie star Zac Efron, ‘Running Wild with Bear Grylls’ is a survival skills reality television series. It stars world renown British adventurer, ex SAS and French Foreign Ligonier Bear Grylls who is also known for his television series ‘Man vs. Wild.’ Throughout the many episodes of the show, ‘Running Wild’ has featured celebrities such as former US president Barack Obama, Titanic movie star Kate Winslet and award winning actress Julia Roberts.

During their expedition the episode’s host Mike Horn, the guest celebrity Matt Pokora and the crew consisting of over thirty members were all in Sri Lanka for the production of this episode. Mike Horn is also a world renown adventurer who was dubbed the ‘world’s greatest living man’ by the Telegraph UK, having circumnavigated and trekked around the world from pole to pole and even along the equator – Latitude Zero with no motorised transport. He has also circled the Arctic solo using a kayak, ski and his own feet, expedited the Amazon on his own and scaled mountains over 8,000 metres. The guest celebrity of the episode, Matt Pokora is a famous French singer and songwriter who has also taken up a number of acting roles. Together, they stepped out into the virgin forest of Samanala Wewa Nature Reserve which is located in between Belihuloya and Kaltota regions, mid-way through the dry and wet zone. The area is located in an untouched, remote area where wild elephant sightings are many which increased the risk for the two stars as well as the large production crew. However all’s well that ended well.

Photo Copyrights : Guillaume Mirand

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Office Address : 20/63, Fairfield Garden, Colombo 08, Sri Lanka


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