Leopards in Yala National Park

The Stories of “Rosettes” from the Sri Lankan wilderness – Part 01

Its Leopards, Leopards and more Leopards…

Doesn’t that get you excited? The graceful feline wandering on the sandy road in Yala National Park at sunset … golden light of the evening sun in perfect harmony with its beautiful skin…actually, that’s every safari goer’s dream shot…for his or her Instagram story. .

And if you plan your safari experience with the experts at Mahoora Tented Camps Yala – on a perfect day – with a bit of luck on your side, you will probably end up having more than one of these dreamy encounters for sure.

Now you are probably wondering why Yala?

Why Yala National Park?

Yala National Park in Sri Lanka is the island’s second-largest, most visited National Park and is home to these most valued wildlife treasures – the endangered Sri Lankan Leopards. WIth Yala boasting of the highest density of leopards to sight one of these magnificent animals on our planet – your chances of spotting them, here, are really good!

Due to the Yala National Park being a collection of vegetation types and the pattern of distribution of trees along with the motorable road system inside the Park, again your chances of spotting one, become even better. The dry season offers the best chance of spotting leopards at Yala National Park. These elusive creatures prefer dry weather and are more likely to be out on the prowl during June to September when rainfall is at its lightest.

In the rainy months (Nov-Jan and Apr) the leopards often retreat to caves, reducing your chances of seeing them in the wild. It’s a cat after all…. They don’t like getting their feet wet!
But that doesn’t mean you won’t get to see any… you may have to be a whole lot more patient with your adventure.

Perhaps chatting to a Mahoora Naturalist will give you the information you need to plan the visit. Trust me.. they know their cats well.

Block 01 at Yala Park is home to approximately 100 to125 leopards and there are a few famous characters among them.

And in this series of articles what you and I are going to do is learn more about “Yala Leopards” … Individually… isn’t that cool?
Alright then… let’s get to it.

First things first… how do you tell one leopard apart from another?

How to identify an Individual Leopard?

When you’re on a safari tour with our Mahoora Naturalist, and when they start calling out to leopard by their names – you will probably start wondering how do they know them individually?? – when they all look almost identical!

Well… have you heard the saying ‘a leopard cannot change its spots? Literally speaking here, these spots actually have quite a lot to do with their identification, with a few other methods:

  • Forehead patterns
  • 1 st row spot pattern of the Mystacial area.

This refers to a spotted pattern located to the uppermost row of spots on the leopard’s cheeks. These are the spots above the upper line of whiskers. The spot pattern is made up of the number of spots first on the right cheek and then the left cheek.

  • the scars
  • the gender
  • the territories
  • the size of the body

With the regular viewing of these leopards, Naturalists at Mahoora Camp have become quite accustomed to identifying individual leopards using these techniques and at the camp, they have compiled data of almost 40 individuals that we have encountered during our safaris.

Be sure to ask about them when you visit the next time.

So let’s dive in to learn about a few famous leopard characters of the Yala National Park.

Await the series to begin ….

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