Our Team

Board Member

Panchali Panapitiya

Advocate Against Captive Animals

“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.”

Khalil Gibran

Huddled in the Indian Ocean and at the foothills of its giant neighbor India, Sri-Lanka is home to a stunning array of iconic animals, unique ecosystems, and some of Asia’s last wild elephants.

Panchali is from Colombo, in Sri-Lanka. Since a child, Panchali’s interests have centered around the concept and study of justice for the human and non-human animal. A passionate believer in non-violent, strategic advocacy, Panchali graduated from Musaeus College, a prestigious academy in Sri Lanka. At Musaeus, Panchali had leading roles in academic and social clubs and was an enthusiastic participant in theatrical performances.

After Musaeus, Panchali attended the University of Bangalore in India; on graduation she returned to Sri-Lanka and taught science at the primary grade level before perusing a career in Banking and Finance. Panchali worked at HSBC, a multinational British Bank, Emirates NBD, a premier banking group in the Middle East, and at similar financial institutions in Sri Lanka.

Panchali’s love for nature was rekindled after she returned home to Sri Lanka permanently, in 2014. In her mind, indifference to the multiple harms inflicted on natural systems and the animals who called these places home wasn’t an option. Sri-Lanka was then -and is now- a hotbed of corruption; bad policy and inept government initiatives remain the norm. The wild creatures and wild places in Sri-Lanka bear the consequences of poor governance and a chronic absence of accountability. Panchali’s work since returning home in 2014 has addressed environmental and social injustices from both a personal and collaborative stand.

Panchali and a small group of fellow activists co-founded RARESriLanka, a small and dynamic advocacy organization that is now one of Sri Lanka’s leading animal rights organizations. Panchali carried Sri-Lanka’s cruel captive elephant enterprise to an international forum through social media and networking, helping build a global movement opposing cruelty to elephants in Sri Lanka.

Panachali’s journey with GMFER began with CITES’ CoP18 in 2019; the conference was initially set to convene in Sri-Lanka but was moved to Geneva after tragic and violent incidents in Colombo killed multiple Lankans. Since that time, Panchali’s contributions to GMFER have been numerous, meaningful, and fruitful.

Panchali continues to advocate for environmental, political, and social causes in Sri Lanka and is a dedicated voice for social justice as well as being a fierce voice for animals; she believes that lasting change is sponsored by changing oneself and is an unapologetic change maker on behalf of the “greater good”.

Press Contact

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Advocate for Animal Rights and Social Justice
Co-founder and Director, RARESri-Lanka


B.Sc (Genetics, Microbiology, Biochemistry), First Class, University of Bangalore, India

Diploma in Business Financing & Bank Management, Institute of Bankers, Sri Lanka

GCE Advanced Level


Rosemary Alles

President and Co-founder

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Hale Anderson

Vice president, Finance and Social Media

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Nkateko Letti Mzimba

Board Adviser on Indigenous Communities

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Nicolás Eliades Vesga

International Climate and Ecological Emergency Communications Strategist

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Jodie Graham

Board Adviser and Finance

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