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.
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!
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.
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.
A creature of the night, the Collared Scops owl is the largest among all the Scops owls. However, it is a rather small bird that is just over 25 cm that belongs to the larger categorization of typical owls.
Wilpattu National Park is one of the best birding locations in Sri Lanka. The fact is that you can easily find a vast amount of endemic and migrate birds. Since the Mahoora Tented Safari camps are located on the border of the park you get the chance to spot a lot of birds around the campsite. Even at night, one could discover some nocturnal animals and sleeping birds.
South East Asia has four different species of jungle fowls and one of them belongs to Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan Jungle Fowl is endemic to Sri Lanka which means you can only see them here. Like most birds, the male Jungle Fowl is more beautiful than its female. The Jungle Fowl is referred to as the “Wali Kukkula” in Sinhalese which is a suitable name for the bird as the male fowls are territorial when they spot another male fowl in their area. Continue reading “The National Bird of Sri Lanka”