Top 6 Places To See Wild Elephants In Sri Lanka
Although a small island country, Sri Lanka is naturally blessed with a huge amount of wildlife and biodiversity everywhere across the nation. If you are visiting Sri Lanka, the popular beach holiday destination in Asia for many reasons, roaming its lush landscapes and wildlife reserves and observing elephants in their natural environment are some of the interesting activities the nation provides for its tourists.
Sri Lanka is one of the Asian countries that have a large number of elephants and it has the highest density of wild Asian elephants. According to the research report on the conditions of elephants conducted by World Animal Protection Organization, Sri Lanka is in possession of an average number of elephants somewhere between five to six thousand.
Recognized as one of three subspecies of the Asian elephant, the Sri Lankan elephant (Elephas maximus Maximus) has much resemblance to African elephants in various aspects of behavior and child-rearing. The calves choose to be with their mothers for up to 5 years.
Although males part with them after the duration, females prefer living with the herd. Compared to African ones, Elephants native to Sri Lanka have a curved spine and smaller ears. Although the nation does not approve of maneuvering elephants much, you shall still get the opportunity to watch them in their natural habitats by trekking and elephant riding.
Here, we would like to introduce you to the best six places in Sri Lanka for watching elephants and enjoying moments with them.
Yala National Park
Being the second-largest national park in Sri Lanka, Yala National Park is a huge forest area with grassland and lagoons in the southeast of Sri Lanka touching the boundary of the Indian Ocean. Wild elephants are seen in the park in plenty and guests are offered jeep safari in the park allowing close-distanced sight of their way of living. Apart from the packs of elephants, Yala National Park is also famous for leopards, hundreds of bird species, and crocodiles and has several ancient religious remnants nearby like caves, temples, and paintings, making the place a really worth visit spot. Just 80 kilometers away from Udawalawe wildlife sanctuary, Yala national park is around 195 kilometers away from the Colombo city.
Udawalawe National Park
Largely consisting of bush forest and grasslands, Udawalawe is one of the best national parks in Sri Lanka with vertical highlands on the northern boundary. Situated in the south of Sri Lanka, Udawalawe is the best tourist place for seeing wild elephants in a comfortable environment. The destination is pretty much interesting for its wildlife safaris that would help you see elephants throughout the year. The park is estimated to have more than 1000 elephants in the sanctuary. You are getting the high chance to see herds of elephants passing and mud bathing in the forest. It is 158.7 kilometers away from Colombo city via Pelmadulla - Embilipitiya Hwy/A18.
Wilpattu National Park
Being the largest national park in Sri Lanka, Wilpattu National Park is yet another prominent wildlife sanctuary in the country where you could watch the freely roaming elephants in addition to leopards, sloth bear, water buffalo, spotted dear, mongoose, and various bird species. Wilpattu, the oldest national park, is blessed with a thickly vegetated forest region and numerous natural lakes (willus). Stretching over 1,317 square kilometers (131, 693 hectares) at 152 meters above sea level, Wilpattu National Park makes itself ideal for elephants with 106 lakes spread out inside. Positioned in the northwest coastal lowland, the best time to visit Wilpattu National Park is months from May through September when the region observes good weather and affords high odds of sighting wild animals. The park can be reached in less than 4 hours of car drive from Colombo.
Minneriya and Kaudulla National Parks
Located next to each other, Minneriya and Kaudulla are two national parks in the northeast region of Sri Lanka, separated by dense jungle, "elephant corridor". Boasting of a thickly vegetated forest and a wide variety of wild animals, these national parks are the right choice to see the elephants and other wild species without overcrowdedness. Although the Visitors are offered jeep safari in the park, you don't need even have to cross the boundary to see elephants since they come out of the park for the extremely natural and unrestricted style of the sanctuary. The annual "gathering of Asian elephants" happening during the dry season ( June, July through September) is an interesting wildlife event in here when large herds of elephants choose to visit the reservoirs of the park to find the availability of water. Located around 200 kilometers away from Colombo city, these national parks are accessible by less than 5 hours of car drive.
Elephant Transit Home
The elephant transit home is where wild elephant calves are adopted, rehabilitated in the genuine natural environment, and cared with proper food and medication before they are returned to their natural habitat. The elephant transit home near the Udawalawe national park is the best elephant sanctuary in Sri Lanka to see elephants. More than 40 baby elephants are brought up here in all seasons. Until they turn five years old, calves are provided better care and nutrient food and are able to freely roam the sanctuary under minimal human interaction. Yet visitors like you can see them standing beyond fences, understand the style of feeding them and know about the rearing. Elephants saved here are returned back to the national parks of the country. There is no option for elephant safari here but you can sponsor a calf.
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
The Pinnalwala Elephant Orphanage is one of the largest animal care for wild elephants in Sri Lanka, set in 25 acres coconut property that adjoins Maha Oya River, in the northwest of Kegalle town, halfway between Colombo and Kandy. Being in possession of the largest herd of captive elephants in the world, there are more than one hundred of wild Asian elephants freely roaming in their natural habitats, yet with all the better care and food. It was in 1975, thus captive breeding ground was established by the Department of Wildlife Conservation of Sri Lanka with a view to protecting the orphaned and unweaned wild elephants seen wandering in the forests of Sri Lanka. But in 1978, the National Zoological Garden took over nursery from DWC. In order to develop the functioning, in 1982, a captive breeding program was introduced in the care unit. The nursery is open to visitors from 8:30 in the AM everyday to 6:00 PM daily, during when you can watch the rearing of calves, bottle feeding, herd leaving to the river and their natural life.