Sri Lanka, a compact island nation, has a range of wildlife which is truly breathtaking, and will enthuse and delight in equal measure anyone who appreciates the wild side of life. Sri Lanka is passionately proud of her historical heritage, her numerous cultures and her melting-pot of people who make the country so special, but she is truly proud of the natural treasures which Mother Nature has bestowed upon her shores. Sri Lanka has her own ‘Big Five’, and Big Game Safaris unequivocally believe in promoting these natural treasures.
We believe that nature is there for one and all, but are quick to express that we are true ambassadors of protecting and conserving these special creatures to ensure that for generations to come, these creatures of the wild will be accessible to all, in their own habitat, allowed to roam free, unhindered by pressures caused by man. Allow Big Game Safaris to guide you on a journey to a new understanding of just how unique and special these animals truly are, by introducing Sri Lanka’s Big Five to you in a proper manner, befitting the vision of the Company. Watch and observe, and enjoy and rejoice in the preservation of some of this planet’s most incredible creatures. Big Game Safaris, where the animals are the kings of the world.
Sri Lankan Leopard
Sri Lankan Leopard – One of the most lithe and supple of the big cats, the Sri Lankan leopard holds a mystique like no other. Coming out of its slumber at dawn and dusk to swagger through the jungle environments, the leopard is a creature of both incredibly terrifying strength and beauty.
Sri Lanka’s Yala National Park is recognized as having the highest density of wild leopards in the world. In one area of the Park, it is reported that there is one leopard per square kilometre, an incredibly high number compared to anywhere else in the world. Unconfirmed reports indicate that between 500 – 650 leopards reside in the wild in Sri Lanka.
Big Game Safari camps at Yala and Wilpattu are your perfect base for observing these beautiful creatures up close. No experience compares to a morning or evening safari with a leopard sighting.
Care, education, and continuing support must be provided to ensure that the leopards of Sri Lanka, one of its most stunning and majestic predators, still roam free for many generations to come.
SLOTH BEAR – The distinctly shaped sloth bear with its black shaggy coat and heavy build is often spotted in several of Sri Lanka’s National Parks where there is undisturbed forest growth, especially in Yala and Wilpattu. Found exclusively in the Indian Subcontinent, the sloth bear has evolved from the Eurasian Brown Bear over several millennia.
Sloth Bears are insect-eating mammals and have a specially adapted lower lip and palate for gathering their food. They mainly consume termites, bee hives, and fruits, and can be heard from a distance of 100 metres (300 feet) away as they ‘slurp’ up their food. They are known to hunt smaller mammals as well.
Sloth Bears are similar in a way to Sun Bears in that they often have a distinctive pale yellow V-shaped marking on their chests. They are also the bears to display the longest tails, some of which can grow up to 7 inches in length. Although they walk in an unhurried rambling fashion, Sloth Bears can run faster than humans, and despite looking clumsy in every way, are adept tree climbers. Primarily nocturnal creatures, the Sri Lankan Sloth Bear can be seen out at both dawn and dusk in several of the country’s national parks.
Sloth Bears are not a very common sight owing to their tendency to shy away from humans. May/June is the best season to see Sloth Bears in Yala and Wilpattu National Parks, as they climb large palu (Manilkara hexandra) trees to feast on its sweet nourishing fruit. Guests who stay at Big Game Camps in Yalaand Wilpattu might get a chance to see sloth bears even outside of the palu season.
Elephant numbers have dwindled owing to poaching throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, and the human-elephant conflict in remote areas. The Sri Lankan Department of Wildlife has taken steps to ensure the conservation of these magnificent giants, so that this priceless part of the eco system survives.
With Sri Lanka’s most southerly point not far from the deeper waters of the continental shelf, it is possible to see these immense, yet truly graceful mammals come quite close to shore. Blue Whales are the largest animals ever to have graced this planet, and can reach in excess of 35 metres (100 feet) in length, making them true giants of the ocean. Their colour has been described as being the same colour as the water: rich and deep petrol blue.
Krill feed on these nutrients, and the Blue Whales feed on the krill, thus keeping the ocean’s life cycle moving. Sri Lanka’s best place to see Blue Whales in their natural habitat is off the coast of the town of Mirissa in the southern coast. Big Game Camps can arrange a whale watching expedition at Mirissa on the way to or on the way back from the Yala National Park. All you have to do is let us know in advance, and we will make the proper arrangements.
It is now imperative that these treasures of the ocean are recognised for what they truly are: Endangered but magnificent sea creatures that have evolved into massive proportions earning them a place as the kings of the ocean. Sri Lanka’s Wildlife Department is making concerted efforts to ensure that these majestic Blue Whales will continue to grace Sri Lanka’s shores for many more years to come.
With the continental shelf being so close to Sri Lanka’s west coast, the meeting of the warmer and colder waters bring together a rich feast of nutrients on which the Sperm Whale feeds. Earlier reports and maps indicated that the shelf was much further out. However, according to new research, it appears that the Continental Shelf is much closer to land than was originally believed. This is the reason why Sperm Whale sightings are possible so close to Sri Lanka’s shores.
Sperm Whales are the deepest divers in the cetacean family, reaching incredible depths of down to 3,200 metres (10,500 feet), but are more commonly seen around 1,200 metres (4,000) feet. They generally congregate to the ocean’s surface to breathe, but dive deep to hunt for giant squid and other prey.
This is an experience you will never forget. Sri Lanka’s Wildlife Department is making concerted efforts to ensure that these magnificent ocean dwellers are protected, by creating widespread awareness as to the threat that these animals face. It is imperative that these animals are given the sanctuary that they deserve in Sri Lanka’s waters.