Highlights of the month
Sri Lankan Elephant
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. During ‘The Gathering” up to 300 Elephants can be seen on the receding banks of the Minneriya tank. This is the highest concentration of Asian Elephants occurs in Asia. This is a seasonal event which takes place at Minneriya National Park during August and September. The Gathering of Elephants at Minneriya was recently ranked sixth amongst the world’s greatest wildlife spectacles by Lonely Planet.
Apart from Minneriya, Elephants can be seen year round in parks like Udawalawe and Yala. In Udawalawe National park sightings are virtually guaranteed as he park is home to nearly 300 Elephants, Yala National Park is famous for the 10-12 Tuskers which call the park home. Only 6% of all male Sri Lankan Elephants have tusks making this a very rare specimen to see in the wild. Wasgamuwa National park is also famous for watching Elephants. During the wet season when Minneriya National park is in accessible the Hurullu Eco park in the jungles of Habarana can be used to see the Elephants.
Elephant sightings are virtually guaranteed in Sri Lanka and this is a promise which no other park in Asia can make, making Sri Lanka indeed a very special place to watch wild Asian Elephant Roam Free.