Otara’s passion for animal welfare and the environment was the driving force behind Embark and Otara foundation. Embark is a social enterprise dedicated to improving the lives of street dogs in Sri Lanka while Otara Foundation focuses on broader animal welfare issues as well as wildlife conservation, social development and environmental sustainability.
Since its inception Embark has successfully rescued, treated, fostered and found new homes for thousands of Sri Lankan stray dogs. Embark’s mission is to create a society where street dogs and people live in harmony with one another.
Otara Foundation is currently taking great strides in the areas of animal welfare as well as wildlife and environmental conservation. Getting approval on the much needed animal welfare bill was a tremendous win for all animals in Sri Lanka. The current appeal to end the suffering of the animals at the national zoo in Dehiwala, is supported by thousands of concerned citizens worldwide.
As Otara’s personal CSR initiative, Embark was launched in March 2007 with the sole mission of reducing animal cruelty and placing intense focus on animal wellbeing throughout the country.
Embark’s key activities include sterilization surgeries, puppy re-homing campaigns, and caring for injured stray animals. Each of these activities is supported by a comprehensive and consistent campaign of education. To date, this has been achieved by raising awareness of the importance of animal welfare, and advocating practical approaches to connecting with stray dogs and communicating the importance of treating these community animals with respect.
As of August 2016, over 18,708 dogs have been sterilized, more than 44,665 vaccinated against rabies, 15,117 sick and injured animals received treatment, and more than 2,737 pooches found great new homes. During this period, Embark has also worked with school children, educating them on dog bite prevention and responsible pet ownership; while regular awareness campaigns reach more than 300,000 others each month.
The Embark Annual Report for 2015 can be viewed here: http://www.embarkpassion.com/images/downloads/annual_report.pdf
Besides the services, campaigns and promotions carried out by Embark, Otara has initiated many more programmes to benefit Sri Lanka's animals as part of her social responsibility work.
2011 - The focus of Odel's awareness campaign to mark World Animal Day 2011 centred around four endangered or threatened species endemic to Sri Lanka; the Sri Lankan Elephant, the Sri Lankan Leopard, the Chestnut-backed Owlet and the Purple-faced Langur. Odel's flagship store played host to several activities and events which helped raise awareness on these and other threatened or endangered endemic animals. Odel also set aside Rs. 5 of every Rs. 100 spent at the Alexandra Place Store on souvenirs and Embark departments during the 8 and 9 October for a project initiated by the Wildlife Conservation Society of Galle for the conservation of the Purple-faced Langur.
2012 - Celebrating World Animal Day 2012, Odel looked toward the plight of Sri Lanka's pachyderm population. Themed 'Nothing can replace the real thing', the campaign was centred round creating awareness about the Sri Lanka Elephant, one of the three recognised subspecies of the Asian Elephant. Threatened by habitat loss, these animals have now been restricted to a few national parks and reserves. Part of the proceeds from the sale of merchandise especially created for the campaign was donated to Ath Athuru Sevana – an Elephant transit home in the Udawalawe National Park.
2013 - Crocodile census: World Animal Day 2013 turned the spotlight on Sri Lanka's crocodiles which are in danger of becoming extinct. Heading the country's top fashion retailer, Otara raised funds to support the first ever census in the country of these aquatic tetrapods. A collection of products were launched to raise awareness, while proceeds from the sale of these items contributed toward the costs of the census conducted by the Crocodile Specialist Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as part of conservation efforts.
2014 - Kindness & Compassion Campaign:
2014 - World Animal Day campaign: Odel launched a responsible whale watching campaign in commemoration of World Animal Day in 2014. The aim of the campaign was to both foster and encourage future generations that admire, respect and understand the importance of conserving the world’s largest mammal. Colorful whale puppets were used to educate visitors to ‘The Whale Song’, whilst children were also offered the opportunity to create whale-inspired arts and crafts, engage in exciting conservation and animal trivia related games, games with magic balloons and the opportunity to get their faces painted in the likeness of their favorite animals.
2015 - Animal welfare bill: The Otara Foundation pressed the Government of Sri Lanka to enact a new Animal Welfare Bill by mobilizing mass public support for the legislation via an on-line signature campaign launched to mark World Animal Day. The new Animal Welfare Bill was intended to replace Sri Lanka’s antiquated Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance of 1907, but had been in draft stage since 2006. In February 2016, the Otara Foundation welcomed the approval of the Animal Welfare Bill by the Cabinet of Ministers as a step in the right direction and pledged to continue its advocacy in order to ensure the enactment of the Bill as law.
2016 - Flood relief: Sri Lanka was impacted by severe floods in May 2016 and Otara Foundation was able to assist many affected families as well as animals. 35 helpless dogs stranded in the heavy floods were rescued and many more received food and shelter during this difficult time.
2016 - Free the innocent campaign: Otara Foundation is currently appealing to end the suffering of the resident animals at the National Zoo at Dehiwala Sri Lanka. The zoo has come under the criticism from many animal rights groups as well as thousands of concerned citizens for neglecting it’s animals and not providing them the standard level of care due to animals in captivity.