The Sri Lankan Leopard
Panthera pardus kotiya
The first villu (water body) that you encounter when entering the Wipattu National Park has royalty of its own. A majestic Sri Lankan leopard cub who is merely one and a half years old sits proudly on the sandy track leading into the park around five in the evening. Still a young predator, the Prince of Persibeniwewa will soon claim his territory as King. Even though he appears brave and poised in this capture he has to defeat the mature leopard that currently reigns in the territory to become the true King. The cycle of leopards claiming territory, having cubs of their own and witnessing their cubs grow up to become mature predators themselves is quite commonly seen in these eco systems.
The Sri Lankan Leopard is the apex predator of Sri Lanka. The species is distributed in most parts of the island including the wet and dry zones and the highland forests. The Wilpattu National park is one of the most ideal places to encounter the wonder of this species in broad day light as the leopards patrol the protected areas quite freely. By nature, the Sri Lankan Leopard is a nocturnal species that hunts during the dark. Its favourite prey is the spotted deer that is also abundant in the same habitats. Its method of hunting is calm and precise where it watches its prey quietly before making a quick sprint with a pounce to capture an unsuspecting creature.
Spending a few days roaming the park will leave you with truly memorable sightings of this incredible species. The leopards can be seen making their way through the park, resting on tree trunks, grooming and sometimes even getting a little playful. It is one of the most photogenic and charismatic species in Sri Lanka and is sought after by every wildlife photographer that visits the country.
Listed as a globally endangered species, the Sri Lankan Leopard is a native of Sri Lanka. This makes it imperative that both the local community and those who visit the protected areas makes a real effort in protecting the species.
A true spectacle to behold, the Minneriya elephant gathering in Sri Lanka lets you witness hundreds of elephants congregate in one area annually! Not only do they gather, but they eat, drink, swim and socialise – think of it as an elephant rave lasting months! The reason for this is that during the dry season – July to September – water and food supply reduce drastically in the region. To cope with this, the elephants congregate around the Minneriya reservoir, inside Minneriya National Park, where grasses are rich and fertile, and water and shade is abundant.
Continue reading “The biggest party in all of Asia is thrown by Sri Lankan Elephants”
History and Geography
Lying like a tear drop in the Indian Ocean, the island of Sri Lanka defies convention – this tiny island is packed with an enormous population of wildlife! Udawalawe National Park is the sixth largest National Park on the island. The Park is situated just south of the Central Highlands, on the boundary of Sri Lanka’s wet and dry zones, with the Udawalawe Reservoir nestled in the centre. Established in 1972, the Park was created with the objective of protecting the catchment area of the Udawalawe reservoir, which provides water for agriculture and hydro-power generation. This is spread over an area of 30,821 hectares, closely resembling an African game park!
Continue reading “Untamed Udawalawe”
Blacksheep of Diving Birds
Indian Darter aka the snakebird (Anhinga melanogaster)is a common sight you see in and around the villu’s in the Yala National Park.
It stands out from its “friends”; the Commorns for not having the oil glands to give a wax effect to his wings.
This beautiful bird landed on the branch with open wings to sun dry their wings after a dive into the waters. [ As he doesn’t have the luxury of having an oily wax coat ] They are always observing disturbances in the water with their long flexible neck which works like a spear darting into the waters in a blink of an eye at the sight of a fish.
This beautiful picture of an Indian Darter was captured by Chris Ang, an award winning photographer from new york on a Safari to the national park with Mahoora tented safari camps Yala in February 2019.
THE SRI LANKAN FISHING CAT
It is common knowledge that cats don’t like water and prefer to stay away from it all costs. Larger animals of the species such as the Tiger and the Jaguar defeat this notion by adapting to the surrounding wetlands of their habitat. In Sri Lanka however we are home to the Sri Lankan Fishing Cat a very unique creature that has adopted to not only live in wetlands, but thrive in it. Continue reading “THE SRI LANKAN FISHING CAT”
In a real “messy hair don’t care” angle, the Sri Lankan sloth bear looks like it just got out of bed after a night out in the jungle; it ambles around Sri Lanka’s dry zone wooded areas in a shaggy coat, in search of food. They usually keep to themselves, often found grunting and snorting nosily, with its nose to the ground, while walking in search of food. The sloth bears’ main diet consists of termites and ants, however, being omnivores, they feed on almost anything from plants and animals, to fruit and insects.
Continue reading “The Photogenic Sri Lankan Sloth Bear”
The subspecies of Asian elephants are classified under 3 main categories; the endemic species to Sri Lanka is called Elephas maximus maximus, the subspecies of elephants across the Indian sub-peninsula and indo-china territory is called Elephas maximus indicus, and the third group across a specific area of Sumatra Island is called Elephas maximus sumatranus. There is no remarkable difference between the subspecies of the Asian elephant and African elephant.
Continue reading “Giants of Asia”