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Aliyas and Narias at Udawalawe National Park

Aliyas and Narias at Udawalawe National Park

For the uninitiated, ‘aliya’ means elephant and ‘naria’ means jackal in Sinhala. For the Udawalawe National Park safari-goer, they both mean the same thing – a memorable wildlife sighting! Even on particularly rainy days, an Udawalawe Safari is never disappointing as animals tend to come out for water. This safari in particular brought us up close and personal with packs of jackals and herds of elephants!

What started out as grey skies worsened to a tropical storm, which we took as a bad omen for a safari with no fruitful sightings. Perhaps the jackals and elephants in Sri Lanka didn’t get the memo, as every 100 meters we had to stop and watch in awe as giant and furry wildlife played before our eyes and lenses!
Like all Asian elephants, the Sri Lankan subspecies chats using visual, acoustic, and chemical signals. At least fourteen different vocal and acoustic signals have been recorded! Asian elephants are smaller in size when compared to African elephants and have the highest body point on the head. Females are generally smaller in size than males, and have short or no tusks. Sri Lankan elephants are the largest subspecies reaching a shoulder height of between 2 and 3.5 m, weigh between 2000 and 5500 kg, and have 19 pairs of ribs. In July 2013, a dwarf Sri Lankan elephant was sighted in Udawalawe National Park – it was over 1.5 m tall but had legs shorter than average, and was the stronger opponent in a skirmish with a young bull!

The Sri Lankan jackal (Canis aureus naria), a.k.a the Southern Indian jackal, is a subspecies of golden jackal native to southern India and Sri Lanka. The jackal is slightly smaller than a wolf, with overall smaller legs, body, and tail. This canine is noted to be incredibly mysterious, curious, and agile. However, they aren’t quite as tame as your pet back home. Jackals are skilled hunters and scavengers. With pack mentality, they can organise and take down large prey. The pack also waits for other predators to make a kill, fill up, and then enjoy their leftovers.

The Secret Safari

The Secret Safari

Ever been on a secret safari before? We at Big Game Camps Sri Lanka invite you to step out of your tent, and step into your safari! This is just one of the many benefits of camping where elephants roam, peacocks dance, and jungle cats prowl, and is a very unique advantage of being in close proximity to the Yala, Udawalawe and Wilpattu National Parks!

Enjoy bird watching by simply looking up at the trees or near the watering holes and try to spot everything from the Yellow-fronted barbet to the Pompadour green pigeon. Or, wander around the campsite and encounter anything from 30 species of butterflies to sunbathing Elephants! This isn’t your textbook Sri Lankan Safari, this is living with wildlife and having the experience of a never-ending safari.

For an additional fee, and subject to availability, ask for the camp’s naturalist and enjoy a guided nature walk and / or night walk to make the most of your secret safari in Sri Lanka.

Popular and rare campsite sightings at Big Game Yala: Grey hornbill, jungle fowl, brown-capped babbler, pompadour green pigeon, yellow-fronted barbet, ceylon barbet, mugger crocodile, land monitor, green guardian lizard, painted-lipped lizard, tree snake, rat snake, flying snake, green vine snake, python, cobra, ruddy mongoose, hare, spotted deer, giant squirrel, ring-tailed civet, palmed civet, loris, rusty spotted cat.

Popular and rare campsite sightings at Big Game Udawalawe: Wild boar, black-naped hare, star tortoise, ruddy mongoose, land monitor, peacock, hornbills, 20 other species of birds, 10 species of butterflies, ring tailed civet, jungle cats, grey langur, toque macaque, giant squirrel, palm squirrel.

Popular and rare campsite sightings at Big Game Wilpattu: Spotted deer, barking deer, mouse deer, elephant, jungle cat, fishing cat, porcupine, giant squirrel, palm squirrel, peacock, brahminy kite, pangolin, loris, black-naped hare, mongoose, land monitor, 27 species of snakes, 125 species of birds, 47 species of butterflies.


Moving whales out of the fast lane

Moving whales out of the fast lane

By Malaka Rodrigo
Sunday times 6th December 2015
Image courtesy : Sunday times
Five things you didn't know about Sri Lankan Elephants

5 things you didn't know about Sri Lankan Elephants

1. Sri Lankan elephants today are smaller in comparison with historical accounts dating back to 200 BC and with photographs taken in the 19th century. The smaller size could possibly be the result of eliminating the physically best specimens from potentially breeding, through hunting or domestication.

2. The Sri Lankan subspecies is the biggest and also the darkest of the Asian elephants.

3. The herd size of elephants in Sri Lanka ranges from 12 – 20 individuals or more. It is led by the most senior female, or matriarch.

4. Female Sri Lankan elephants are generally able to breed by the time they are 10 years old, and give birth to a single calf after a 22-month pregnancy!

5. Wild elephant herds as large as 300 to 400 can be seen gathering once a year. The elephant gathering at Minneriya Sri Lanka is considered to be one of the biggest wildlife wonders of the world.

Sri Lanka – The Ultimate Wildlife Destination

Sri Lanka – The Ultimate Wildlife Destination

The small island nation of Sri Lanka (65,610 sq. km or 25,332 sq. mi.) has been famous as a beach holiday
destination since the 1960s and even before for tourists from all over the world. While the beaches are still pristine and the cultural and historical attractions still attract tourists looking for the ultimate in exoticism, there is one area of tourism that has been taking massive steps in the upward direction over the past few years. Sri Lanka is now one of the most sought-after eco-tourism destinations in the world, and rightfully so, as the island has more to offer per square area than most other countries in the world.

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