Thursday, September 13, 2012

Call of the Wild

Leopard in Yala National Park Sri Lanka
A real stand out experience for me in Sri Lanka was visiting Yala National Park. It was the country's first national park, established in 1900, and is home to a large variety of birds and mammals. We were extremely lucky during our Safari as although the driver of our Jeep was young and did not seem very good at the job (he kept on driving past animals that we spotted and then by the time he reversed they had been scared away) we saw all of the main animals. For the first hour or so we seemed to be driving though lifeless scrub land but finally the sightings started with a few peacocks and water buffalo and kept on coming. The major attraction of Yala is the leopards - it has the highest concentration of the shy animals in the world. It was a real shock to be driving away from an elephant sighting and see one crossing the road to a waterhole in front of the vehicle! It stayed at the water drinking for some time, evidently thirsty from the baking hot day. When it stopped it looked up and, seeing vehicles queued up to watch it, sprinted back across the road and into the bushes.
Leopard at watering hole in Yala National Park Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan Elephant, Yala
Our first wild elephant sighting next to the beach
Sri Lankan Tusked Elephant, Yala
This sighting was a complete surprise as we came to a Jeep in front of us and a tusked elephant next to the road which then walked right close past us
Sri Lankan Tusked Elephant, Yala
It came extremely close as it walked past, reaching out its trunk to touch the Jeep
Mugger Crocodile in watering hole at Yala, Sri Lanka
It was fascinating watching the crocodiles at this watering hole, when we first arrived we could only see a couple lying motionless with their mouths open on the bank but as we sat what we had thought was some mud breaking the water moved and came out and several others emerged from the depths
Water buffalo in Yala, Sri Lanka
Water buffalo
Water buffalo and peacock at a watering hole in Yala, Sri Lanka

Deer at a watering hole in Yala, Sri Lanka
As the sun went down more animlas came out to drink at the watering holes such as these deer

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