Marine Turtles and Elephant Safaris Sri Lanka
Sea turtles have been in the tropical and sub-tropical waters in the world over million years. They were strong enough to survive during this lengthy period of time while many of their contemporaries become extinct. Out of seven species of sea turtles the leatherback is the largest. Other species are loggerhead, kemps ridley, hawksbill, Oliver ridley, flatback and green sea turtles. Sea turtles spent most of their life time in the ocean.
Each year females swim at times well over 1500km to come ashore. It is just for few hours to lay eggs in the night. Female turtle dig a hole on the shore and lays about 50 – 150 eggs at a time and swims back to the sea. After the incubation period is over young turtles first come out of the hole and begin the greatest journey of their lives. Most of them fall prey to sea birds and other predators while they are on the way to the sea. The diet of sea turtles differ from species to species but many prefer jellyfish, crabs, sponges etc. When compared to the fresh water turtle’s sea turtles has a flatter shell which helps them to swim fast. Leatherback turtles are the biggest sea turtles averaging 2- 3 meters in length and weighing over 500kg. Many countries in the world take lot of interests to make sure that the saa turtles are protected. But illegally they are hunted for their eggs, meet and the shells. Five out of seven species nest on Sri Lankan beaches. There are many turtle conservation centers located at different areas along the costal belt of the country providing you an ample opportunity to take part in conservation activities and learn more about these ages old creatures.
Sri Lanka is one of the best places in the world to watch Asian elephants in the wild. There are a number of National Parks where these gentle giants can be watched in their natural splendor. The Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus maximus) in Sri Lanka is one of the 3 recognized subspecies along with the Indian and Sumatran Elephants. It lives in a variety of habitats which range from scrub jungle to open plains. Their diet consists mainly of grass, leaves and twigs.
Sri Lanka’s history with elephants dates back to the time of our kings when these giants were used as working animals and in historical battles. Elephants are still used today as work animals to transport logs and more importantly in religious pageants such as the Kandy Esela Perehara, held annually in the hill city of Kandy. In the wild the Sri Lankan Elephant can be seen in herds ranging from 5-10 individuals consisting of mothers and calves. The males remain in the herd until they reach puberty where they are then pushed out of the herd to live solitary lives. Only 6% of all male Sri Lankan Elephants have tusks making this a very rare specimen to see in the wild.
Pick up from Colombo / Negombo and transfer to Ranna 212, Tangalle for one night. En route visit Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery. Late night leave to visit Rekawa Turtle Conservation Project.
Morning, leave for Udawalawe to visit Elephant Transit Home. Afternoon, visit Udawalawe National Park for dry zone birds and Elephants. Look for dry zone birds, which include Little Green Bee-Eater, Malabar Pied Hornbill & Blue-faced Malkoha. In a visit to Udawalawe National Park close to 50-60 Elephants can be seen and the Nursery Herd, which comprise of many baby Elephants is one of the key attractions. Late evening, drop off at Colombo / Negombo.