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The living dinosaurs of Sri Lanka

The living dinosaurs of Sri Lanka (5 interesting facts about Mugger & Saltwater crocs)

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, you have to hand it to the crocodilians for probably being one of the most resilient creatures to have ever existed. Their heritage originates all the way back in the Triassic period; that’s a whopping 230 Million years ago, when dinosaurs still roamed freely on this planet. These creatures hit a genetic lottery very early by having a near perfect design and haven’t had to change much at all over the millennia. With that kind of advantage, it’s no wonder that they are found all over the world. Sri Lankan wildlife is plentiful, and one of the best ways to check them out is on a Jeep Safari.

Here are some interesting things to note about the crocodilians you will encounter on your safari:

  1. Bucking the trend - The Crocodylus palustris or Mugger crocodile, as it is more commonly known, is plentiful in Sri Lanka. In fact they number in the thousands and are definitely flourishing, which is curious because elsewhere in the world the Mugger populations are in decline.

  2. Bucking the trend… the other way - Whilst the Mugger seems to have found the secret to success, its distinctly larger cousin Crocodylus porosus, the Saltwater crocodile, has been dwindling in its numbers here, even though they are flourishing in other Asian countries and also, of course, in Australia.

  3. Litmus test - Crocs are the top predators in an ecosystem. Their plentiful presence is a great indicator that all is well in that aquatic system. Muggers mainly diet on fish, smaller mammals and reptiles and play a crucial part in preventing overpopulation of these species.

  4. The sky is not the limit - Although crocs love tropical conditions and are found in almost every water system in Sri Lanka, curiously they are not found in any location 150m above sea level. If you are going on a Safari in Sri Lanka, there’s plenty of lowland National Parks under this limit for you to see crocodiles, so don’t you worry.

  5. So moody - Muggers in a locality generally have two types of moods when it comes to interacting with humans; they are either ferocious towards them or laid back and chilled out so much that humans can fish, swim or bathe in the same waters! Saltwater Crocodiles on the other hand have only one mood and it’s always chomp time!

When it comes to camping, Sri Lanka has some fantastic locations and coupling this with Jeep Safaris is one of the best ways to check out Sri Lanka’s Flora and fauna. If you are interested in checking out crocodiles in Sri Lanka contact Sri Lanka Big Game Camps. They are great for guided, budget-friendly Sri Lankan Safaris coupled with very comfortable camping accommodation.


Five Big Facts on Sri Lanka's Big Five

Five Big Facts on Sri Lanka's Big Five

With world-famous fins, claws, spots, blowholes and tusks… it’s no surprise that Sri Lanka is regarded as the best place in the world for a safari experience, outside Africa! The Big Five in Sri Lanka is none other than; the Sri Lankan Elephant – mainly roaming through the dry zone of Sri Lanka, though also spotted in a domesticated setting throughout the island; the Sperm Whale – the thrill of every successful Mirissa Whale Watching excursion; the Sri Lankan Leopard – the apex predator of Sri Lanka, seen in the dry zone and a few highland areas across the country; the Blue Whale – a rare yet possible find just off the coast of Mirissa if you hire a boat for Whale Watching in Sri Lanka; and clocking in at number five of the Big Five is the Sloth Bear – Baloo’s Sri Lankan cousin sometimes found drunk on fruiting Palu on Big Game Safaris in the dry zone!

Here are Five Big Facts on Sri Lanka's Big Five, in the order of land to ocean:

1.      Sri Lankan leopard – This isn’t just a big cat, it’s the biggest leopard in the world! Their super-size is mainly due to the fact that leopards in Sri Lanka are kings of the jungle, with no competition from other wild cat species!

2.      Sri Lankan sloth bear – Much like the Winnie the Pooh Bear cartoons we all grew up on, this bear is a big eater and loves dessert! They are usually found pigging out on Palu fruits when it’s in season, and then promptly going into a sugar comatose while ‘drunkenly’ stumbling away!

3.      Sri Lankan elephant – These big fellas are known to be the biggest and darkest of all the Asian elephants! Bonus Fact: Elephants in Sri Lanka gather in one spot, once a year in Minneriya – with wild herds as large as 300 to 400 – coming together! The Elephant Gathering in Minneriya, Sri Lanka is considered to be one of the biggest wildlife wonders of the world!

4.      Sperm Whale – This is the world’s largest toothed whale, reaching 18m in length and 45 tonnes in weight, which is probably why Whale Watching Tours are so sought after!

5.      Blue Whale – This big guy is the largest living animal on the planet! It’s reported that the longest individual was 100 ft (30.5 m) in length, which could make it a female as the fairer sex of this species are usually larger!

Whether you’re travelling across oceans to see the Sperm or Blue Whale in Sri Lanka, Leopards in Yala, Sloth Bears in the dry zone, Elephants in Udawalawe, or the more elusive Leopards in Wilpattu, Big Game Safari Sri Lanka brings you closer to the Big Five ethically and responsibly, always.


Five things you probably didn't know about the Sri Lankan Toque Macaque

Five things you probably didn't know about the Sri Lankan Toque Macaque

You’ve no doubt seen these mischievous primates on safaris, wildlife tours in Sri Lanka, or in and around temples, but do you really know them? Here are five things about the Sri Lankan Toque Macaque that you probably didn’t know:

  1. Caste system – In the Monkey Kingdom, troops abide by a strict dominance hierarchy, with the oldest male being the alpha and leader, followed by other adult males, sub-adult males, adult females, and finally juveniles.
  2. Forced to run away – Young male monkeys are forced to abandon their troops when they are between 6 and 8 years of age. Not only does this prevent in-breeding, it also ensures that the current alpha male maintains his position at the top.
  3. Placentas – The post-partum female monkey eats part of her placenta for protein, while the alpha female of the group asserts her dominance by taking the rest for herself!
  4. Facial expressions – The countenance of a Sri Lankan monkey is an important indicator of mood or intent. The fear grimace – which ironically resembles a smile – is actually meant to say sorry or stop a fight from happening! An open-mouth stare without showing teeth is meant as a challenge or threat—ironically resembling a gaze of wonder! 
  5. Verbal communication – As with other species of Sri Lankan Wildlife, animals communicate with a diverse set of calls. The most common vocalisations for the Toque Macaque includes:
  • The Loud Call: Sounded by an alpha male used to maintain adequate spacing between members, and to let his group know that it’s time to move on from their foraging site.
  • The Warning or Alarm Call: Sounded by troop individuals to alert others of potential danger.
  • The Scream Call: Sounded by troop individuals, when approached by an outsider from a different troop.
  • The Food Call: Sounded by troop individuals upon discovering a desirable foraging site, rich with food sources.


The three giants of Asia

The three giants of Asia

Fee-fi-fo-fum, the three wise giants of Asia smell a blog being written about them! If you’ve taken an Elephant Safari around Asia, you’ll know these herbivorous gentle giants by their true names – Elephas maximus sumatranus a.k.a the Sumatran Elephant, Elephas maximus indicus a.k.a the Indian Elephant, and Elephas maximus maximus a.k.a the Sri Lankan Elephant. Also making a trumpeting part of Sri Lanka’s “Big Five”, games drives in the island’s dry zone National Parks guarantee an encounter with elephants amongst other Sri Lankan wildlife. Here are some bite-sized facts about these giants:


The Sumatran Elephant

Known as the smallest subspecies of the Asian Elephant by size, but the largest mammal existing on the island of Sumatra, Sumatran elephants dine big as well and deposit seeds from the plants they eat, contributing to a healthy forest ecosystem. These giants share their home with many other endangered species, such as the Sumatran rhino, tiger, and orangutan, as well as countless other species that all benefit from a healthy habitat thanks to these mega herbivores!

The Sumatran elephant life span is 55 – 70 years, they weigh approximately 5 tonnes with a towering height of 5ft – 9ft, and are mostly found in broadleaf moist tropical forest in Sumatra, Borneo and Indonesia. With a population of 2,400 – 2,800, they are considered critically endangered.


The Indian Elephant

Do you know how much 19 hours of munching per day results in? 220 pounds of dung per day! The Indian elephant’s main diet is grass, but large amounts of tree bark, roots, leaves and small stems are also part of the menu. On cheat days (whenever the opportunity presents itself) they go for bananas, rice and sugarcane!

The Indian elephant life span is 55 – 70 years, they weigh approximately 5 tonnes with a giant height of 6ft – 11ft, and are mostly found in rainforests as well as tropical woodlands and dry forests in India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Nepal and Myanmar. With a population of 20,000 – 25,000, they are considered endangered.


The Sri Lankan Elephant

Wildlife in Sri Lanka is abundant, especially on a Big Game Safari where elephants are observed in the wild, ethically. Elephants in Sri Lanka are famous for outnumbering the rest of the other Asian giants per square kilometre, with the island holding the record for the highest density of elephants in Asia! The Sri Lankan elephant herd size ranges from 12 – 20 individuals or more, and is led by the oldest female or matriarch. Since the 19th century, the Sri Lankan elephant population has fallen by 65%, which lead to the national law carrying the death penalty for poaching.


The Sri Lankan elephant life span is 55 – 65 years, they weigh between 4,400 and 12,000 pounds, and is 8ft – 10ft tall. Endemic to Sri Lanka, you can find them in the rainforest as well as lowland dry forests. With a population of 2,500 – 4,000, they are considered endangered.



Of BBQs, Campfires and Stars

Of BBQs, Campfires and Stars

There’s something soothing, yet exciting, about being in the jungle at night; the deep bellows from bullfrogs in the dark, the chirping of a hundred crickets surrounding you, the wind rustling through the scraggly trees… all voices of the night spread throughout absolute silence and isolation. I pondered over these peculiarities as my dining experience at Big Game Camps Yala came to life.

candle and cake at big game camps sri lankaIlluminated by candles, stars, and a dancing campfire, a plate of grilled-to-order BBQ and garlic rice was set in front of me – the second course of my three course dinner experience in the wilderness. I must say that when I think of camping in Sri Lanka, table-side service with courses and polished silverware isn’t the typecast experience, but Big Game’s camping experience is designed with all creature comforts in mind while still being immersed in Nature.

My own Big Game Camp accommodation in Yala featured a comfortable tent with proper bedding and en-suite bathroom with running hot water, plus, the real deciding factor for Yala camping, a flushable toilet! Additionally, I’ll be missing the dread of 4am cold showers pre-safari tomorrow morning. As far as safari camps in Sri Lanka goes, this ticks all my ‘creature comfort’ boxes.

By the time dessert arrived – and it was perhaps the most luscious chocolate biscuit pudding I’ve had – the long, drawn out hoot of an owl which echoed across the jungle, stopped with a sudden flutter and rustle. Inarguably dinnertime was all around. And as the night grew older, with the stars softly twinkling over my fast disappearing dessert, the sounds of the rest of the jungle picked up the slack of now still forks and knives, with whispers of wildlife. If this is just dinner, you can bet your bottom dollar I won’t be skipping breakfast.


- By Talia F.

Guest overnight stay at Big Game Camp Yala on 5th June 2019.


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