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leopards in Sri LankaSri Lanka’s wildlife has been categorised in many shapes and forms throughout the decades, but several factors remain unchanged. First, the island is a habitat for large terrestrial mammals, including Sri Lankan Elephants (a sub-species of Asian Elephants), Sri Lankan Leopards, Sloth Bears, Water Buffalo, Sambar Deer, and several others. Second, Sri Lanka’s culture of conservation is strong in the community and strives to protect wild animals whereas in earlier times, killing for food, sport, and protection were commonplace. Third, Sri Lanka is a small country, which would make it possible for you to see several species of exotic and rare animals within the span of one day; it is the only country in the world where this is possible.

 

Whale watching safari Sri LankaWhile terrestrial mammals have been known about and documented since prehistoric times, Sri Lanka’s Ocean kept a secret bounty hidden from view until very recently. A separatist war kept everyone out of the water in the country’s east coast for a few decades, but once the war ended and peace found its footing in the country, the extent of Sri Lanka’s natural wilderness resources were expanded in the minds and hearts of local and international nature lovers alike. The largest known pod of Blue Whales in the world was found off the coast of Sri Lanka, and this was a discovery that led to a boom in tourism that catapulted Sri Lanka from being a good wilderness destination to it being one of the best in the world. Blue Whales, the largest animals ever to have lived on earth, are usually known for their habits of migration, but the Oceans around Sri Lanka are warm enough and filled with enough food to accommodate upwards of a thousand of these marine behemoths. Other whale species, such as Sperm Whales and Humpback Whales can also be spotted during the season, and if your stars align just right, you might even get to see the occasional Orca (Killer Whale). Whale watchers can usually see many species of another kind of marine mammal – dolphins – that frolic in the rich waters in the area.

 

Elephants in Sri LankaFrom one giant to another, Sri Lankan Elephants are very much a part and parcel of life in Sri Lanka. Although the use of domesticated elephants for hard labour (which, thankfully, is on the decline) and pageants such as the Annual Kandy Esala Perahera are the result of humans using elephants’ skills and temperament for their own needs, wild elephants thrive in many of Sri Lanka’s national parks. The most significant event concerning elephants is the annual Elephant Gathering at the Minneriya National Park in Sri Lanka’ North Central Province. Elephants travel long distances and put aside their usual differences to gather as one mega‑herd to quench their thirst during the driest months of the year. The wilderness area surrounding the Minneriya Reservoir (Built in the 3rd century AD) was designated as the Minneriya National Park, and the reservoir itself is well known for not drying up even during the harshest of droughts. It is believed that elephants use their keen sense of smell and the knowledge passed on through many generations to find their way to and from this fertile National Park. If you are ever to ask a naturalist where to go to absolutely guarantee an elephant sighting whenever you go, they will give only one answer – the Udawalawe National Park. This national park, located towards the south of the country, is prime elephant habitat, and has the resources to nourish one of the largest permanent populations of elephants in the country.

Sloth Bears in Sri LankaIf it is excitement you are looking for, and the thrill of seeing a creature that can literally shred you to bits if given the chance, a safari to the Yala National Park in Southern Sri Lanka might be the perfect prescription for you. Block 1 of the Yala National Park is considered the wilderness area with the densest population of leopards in the world, with more than one leopard per square kilometre. You may think this is not much, but when you consider the ecological sense of it, and the food chain atop which these leopards proudly stand, as the apex predator, you will begin to understand how rare such an area is. Leopards jealously guard their domains, meeting only to mate, or by accident – fights between rival males are not unknown – so a complex system of scent markings is used by each leopard to ensure their own, and their species’ survival. Seeing leopards is hard in any national park, even at Yala, but here, the cards are more in your favour than not. Wilpattu National Park, to the northwest of country, is also well known for its population of leopards, although sightings are harder to come by.

While Leopards are the top predator in Sri Lanka’s national parks, they are not the only carnivorous mammals to call them home. Sri Lanka is home to two smaller species of wild cat – the fishing cat and the rusty spotted cat – that are rarely seen owing to their shy nature and nocturnal hunting habits. Sri Lankan Sloth Bears – a smaller variety of Sloth Bears found in the rest of Asia – subsist on smaller mammals and termites. These lumbering black bears can be heard from 200 yards away terrorising termite mounds with a vacuum-cleaner like action using their big flexible lips.

Sri Lanka is not just full of carnivores that are at each other’s throats all the time. Herbivores large and small can be found across the many forested areas of the country. Axis deer, sambar deer, chevrotains, wild boars, water buffalo, wild rabbits, and several species of primate are among the many species of mammal that prove to be vital links in the food chain.

Mammals may get all the attention, but deserving an equal amount of attention for their beauty and charm, and the part they play in the ecosystem, are the hundreds of species of birds that either live permanently in Sri Lanka’s national parks, or are migrants who visit from the rest of the Indian subcontinent during the cold winter months.

Rounding up the eclectic collection of wildlife in Sri Lanka are the thousands of varieties of insects, the hundreds of varieties of amphibians, dozens of varieties of reptiles (including saltwater crocodiles), and the myriad species of marine animals that thrive in freshwater as well as in the warm waters of the ocean surrounding the island. 

Make Sri Lanka your next wildlife holiday destination. Talk to Mahoora today!

 

 

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Safariline: (+94) 70 222 8 222
Tel: +94 (0) 115 830 833
Fax: +94 (0) 115 330 581
Head Office : 20/63, Fairfield Garden,
Colombo 08, Sri Lanka

 

 

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