April is always beautiful and cheerful, because it’s like spring in Europe. Many trees out in the jungle are laden down with fragrant and beautiful flowers. We were playing host to new clients from the United State of America. This was their first experience of camping and going on safari, which they had decided to do on their honeymoon. Mahoora Camp Manager Mr. Ossi de Silva gave them a very warm welcome and then they were escorted to the Mahoora Elite tent.
Their first safari began around 2.30pm from the camp site and I was happy that it was with my favorite safari driver Piumal. On the way to the Park entrance we spotted some wild boar and deer. We entered the park and headed towards ‘Warahana’ area by passing the ‘Korawak wewa’.
On the way to Warahana, we observed many animals such as the Sri Lanka wild elephant, wild buffalo, Gray Langur, Mugger Crocodile and many beautiful bird’s. Once we had passed Warahana, we arrived at our first stop, ‘Manik Ganaga’ to have some refreshments and stretch our legs.
We piled back into the jeep and were headed to ‘Darshana wewa’ area, all the while keeping our eyes peeled for a sighting of the leopards in the area. It was really hard to spot these well camouflaged carnivores inside the thick bush. However, a few of us noted some movement in the bushes and parked quietly, waiting for the animal to appear.
We were not disappointed, after a couple of minutes, a Ceylon Sloth bear (Melursus ursinus) slowly loped out of the bush and made her way towards us. This was a very exciting sighting as generally, sloth bears are completely nocturnal animals, so a day time lope through the wild is pretty unusual. Also, sloth bears are usually seen by themselves. Occasionally you may be fortunate to observe a female accompanied by their young, usually one or two.
Our guests and I were ecstatic to not only see the sloth bear, but also her cub being comfortably transported on her back. It was a very special moment for me, as it was the first time I had observed such a tiny cub being carried by the mother bear.
To our delight, she crossed the path right in front of the parked jeep, so we were able to take many wonderful photographs of this amazing and tender sight, the memory of which is indelible in my mind forever.
Naturalist’s Diary By : Puwathara Jayawardena