The Yala National Park is usually at its driest in May, but the early months of 2016 have been unusually dry. Much of the water had gone dry, with small pools of mud remaining, where you might encounter water buffalos. These dry conditions forced elephants, deer, wild boar and other mammals to travel towards the Manik River, which itself was reduced to just a small stream.
The Mahoora Yala campsite was unusually busy for this time of the year. Although guests were given a warm Mahoora welcome, the searing heat meant that hammocks and bean bags were shelved in favour of more cold beverages.
A young English couple who were on their first camping and safari experience joined us. They had already been on two safaris during the tour and had been fortunate as they had photographed most of Yala’s large mammals (except Sri Lankan Sloth Bears), birds, and reptiles (crocodiles and land monitors).
On the second day of their stay, we embarked on a safari tour at around 2.30pm after a scrumptious lunch. They soon entered the national park and were lucky enough to photograph the magnificent Grey Hornbill.
As we entered the Rawum Wala area, we heard the alarm calls of deer, and we knew something was afoot. To our surprise and delight, we saw that an adult leopard had caught a doe in its powerful jaws – a rare sight indeed. Although the doe tried to cling on to life, its end was inevitable. The fearless leopard proceeded to devour its prey, tearing its flesh using its sharp teeth. Our guests were so delighted and shocked that we had to remind them to take pictures! Although saddened by the demise of the unfortunate doe, they soon understood that in the jungle the law is “kill or be killed”.
Words and Photographed by Puwathara Jayawardena (Mahoora Naturalist)