Candid Camera Trap Stills

In the lead up to WNPS Public Lecture ‘Leopards of Wilpattu National Park’ with Lead Researcher Dinal Samarasinghe, we’re sharing more fascinating camera trap images from this project. Over the last decade, camera traps and the candid images and videos that they produce have been featured in countless documentaries have been the focus of conservation efforts in establishing populations of animals in the wild.

Tune in tomorrow at 6.00 pm Sri Lankan time to learn more about an incredible long term project in camera trapping which began in Wilpattu National Park in 2018, with the aim of estimating population density, structure and threats to carnivores within the boundaries of the park, namely Leopard. To tune in, sign up online at https://forms.gle/NnFQEEod7hE14kvh9

Kulu Safaris was honored to have supported this initiative through sponsorship and logistical support.

Camera Traps Disclose High Density of Leopard in Wilpattu National Park

A long term project in camera trapping in Sri Lanka began in Wilpattu National Park (WNP) in 2018, with the aim of estimating population density, structure and threats of carnivores within the boundaries of the park, namely Leopard.

Over the last decade, camera traps and the candid images and videos that they produce have been featured in countless documentaries, are widely shared on social media and have been the focus of conservation efforts in establishing populations of animals in the wild. A long term project in camera trapping in Sri Lanka began in Wilpattu National Park (WNP) in 2018, with the aim of estimating population density, structure and threats of carnivores within the boundaries of the park, namely Leopard.

Continue reading “Camera Traps Disclose High Density of Leopard in Wilpattu National Park”

WNPS: 126 years of wildlife conservation in Sri Lanka

Now in its 126th year, we look back at the Society’s immense contribution towards Sri Lanka’s wildlife and nature conservation, with insights from WNPS General Secretary Jehan CanagaRetna.

First established in 1894 as the Ceylon Game Protection Society with the sole purpose of reporting on laws relating to the protection of game, the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) is the world’s 3rd oldest functioning civil society. Continue reading “WNPS: 126 years of wildlife conservation in Sri Lanka”

Kulu Safaris and Camera Trapping

A project to monitor leopard numbers

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In Sri Lanka, Leopards were once found across the island. Today, the Sri Lankan leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya), a subspecies native to our island, is classified as Endangered by the IUCN. Little is known about the island’s only big cat in terms of population ecology, behavioral and activity patterns. The Sri Lankan leopard is one of only two leopard subspecies confined to an island.

Continue reading “Kulu Safaris and Camera Trapping”

Part II on Sri Lanka’s Crocodiles: Behavioral traits of an apex predator

The temperament between the two species has been known to vary; while Mugger crocodiles have been observed to show a lighter temperament (due to being more social), the Saltwater crocodile has been observed to display a more aggressive temperament, owing to its territorial nature. Both crocodylians however, are known to be man-eaters.

Picking up from our last piece on Sri Lankan crocodylians, the following blog shares insights to the traits of our apex reptilian predator in hunting its prey and attacks on humans. Having existed virtually unchanged for the past 100 million years, the Saltwater (‘salties’) and Marsh (‘Mugger’) crocodiles that are found in Sri Lanka have been identified over recent years to display traits distinct to each species.  Continue reading “Part II on Sri Lanka’s Crocodiles: Behavioral traits of an apex predator”

Sri Lanka’s Crocodiles: insights to Marsh and Saltwater Crocodiles

Often referred to as the closest living creature from the period of dinosaurs, crocodiles date back some 230 million years, and have existed virtually unchanged for the past 65 million years. Lead researcher Dinal Samarasinghe gives us insights in the first of our series covering these ancient reptiles.

Often referred to as the closest living creature from the period of dinosaurs, crocodiles date back some 230 million years, and have existed virtually unchanged for the past 65 million years. Leading crocodile researcher Dinal Samarasinghe gives us insights in the first of our series covering these ancient reptiles.

Continue reading “Sri Lanka’s Crocodiles: insights to Marsh and Saltwater Crocodiles”

Yala with the Kids: A guide to the most fun your child can have in our jungles

This October, Sri Lanka observed World Children’s Day, and to celebrate, we’ve got a kid’s stay free offer on for the entirety of our value season in 2018, to give you more reason to book in a holiday safari with your child.

We often get asked if safaris are suitable for children under 12, and quite simply, it is! This October, Sri Lanka observed World Children’s Day, and to celebrate, we’ve got a kid’s stay free offer on for the entirety of our value season in 2018, to give you more reason to book in a holiday safari with your child. Here are some of our best tips and activities when staying at our camp with children.

Continue reading “Yala with the Kids: A guide to the most fun your child can have in our jungles”

ROAMING LONERS: INSIGHTS TO MALE ELEPHANT BEHAVIOR IN SRI LANKA

Two male elephants in Yala, named Humpy and Nelum, shadow each other over a period of months, but are careful to not make any contact or acknowledgement of the other. They turn up in the same grasslands and water holes, yet it’s as if a purposeful avoidance of the other is in place.

The first in a 12-part series touching on the unique characteristics of the island’s nomadic land giants.

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A tusker approaches two bull elephants, what happens next is intriguing

With tourists in their thousands flocking to Minneriya to catch sight of the great elephant gathering, we wrapped up September by taking the alternative route, like we usually do, seeking out the land’s largest mammals at lesser known Kaudella and Kala Wewa National Parks, the latter of which is home to the island’s highest density of tuskers.

We had the privilege of having Environmental Scientist and Elephant Ethologist Sumith Pilapitiya with us, and the following piece sheds some interesting insights to characteristics of high ranking Asian male elephants.

Kalawewa
Built in 307 B.C., Kala Wewa is a wonder of primeval hydraulic engineering set against the magical and stunning backdrop of the Ritigala Mountain Range.

Breaking away 

Male Elephants are non-confrontational beings if unprovoked, adhering to a strict code of a natural hierarchical order to maintain the peace, and, they are wanderers from adolescence. Branching out between the ages of 12 to 15 years, a young male elephant begins a lifelong journey, largely alone or in temporary male groups, except when a female is in estrus when he mingles with a herd, which take him from one mate to the next, with the main objective of fathering as many offspring as it possibly can in its 60 or 70-year life span.

Friend or Foe?

Two male elephants in Yala, named Humpy and Nelum, shadow each other over a period of months, but are careful to not make any contact or acknowledgement of the other. They turn up in the same grasslands and water holes, yet it’s as if a purposeful avoidance of the other is in place. Pilapitiya is certain of a history between the two, perhaps a past relationship or a family link, but as far as evidence goes, they remain complete strangers who share the same landscape.

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The bull swims away from his friend, leaving him to spar with the tusker in musth in the waters of Kala Wewa in the Kala Wewa National Park. Bull elephants, especially when confronted with another in musth, opt to back away than risk a confrontation.

FACT: 

  • The probability of a male elephant in musth raiding agricultural crops is greatly reduced (despite the bull’s testosterone hike of 5-6 times the norm) as its focus shifts from food, to finding a mate.

Ancient rules apply today 

Pilapitiya’s research confirms that abiding by the ancient structures of hierarchy, allows only the strongest and most experienced males to dominate lower ranking bulls which gives them a distinct advantage during mating.  The dominance hierarchy among males can be overturned, occasionally, if a lower ranking bull in musth challenges a higher ranking non-musth bull.  These confrontations can sometimes end in death of a bull. This was evident in Yala National Park recently, when a high ranking, but non-musth tusker named Thilak was gored to death by a lower ranking single tusker in musth.

The state of musth confers an advantage during mating as estrus females prefer to be mated by large musth bulls. The musth male guards the estrus female and mates with her several times during her estrus period of four to six days. Towards the end of her estrus, the bull loses interest in her and moves on in search of the next receptive female, leaving the female to raise the calf by herself with help from her herd. “Males leaving their natal herd and their ‘loner’ behavior,” Pilapitiya speculates, “is nature’s way of limiting inbreeding.”

But that isn’t to say male elephants spend their non-musth time in complete solitude; It’s a good a time as any to catch up with male peers; sparring only with other males, especially those known to them, akin to old mates meeting at the bar, as seen in bull herds, as the males we caught on camera in Kala Wewa.

Life as an elephant – simple as breathing, hard as death, the joy and the sadness of being alive. Nothing was ever easy for them. But nothing was ever as strong, either. 

ABOUT SUMITH PILAPITIYA

Sumith Pilapitiya was formally Lead Environmental Specialist for the South Asia Region of the World Bank and former Director General of Wildlife Conservation in Sri Lanka. He has personal research interests in elephant conservation and addressing the human elephant conflict and has been working on elephant social behavior in Yala National Park and the surrounding landscape. 

 

 

Rare Sightings;the Thick-billed Flowerpecker

Here’s a throwback to a rare August sighting; a Thick-billed Flowerpecker feeding her hungry newborns some over ripened pallu.

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Sweet palu is a favorite among Thick Billed Flowerpeckers

Here’s a throwback to a rare August sighting; a Thick-billed Flowerpecker feeding her hungry newborns some over ripened pallu. A resident all across tropical southern Asia, from north eastern India to East Timor, these short and stout birds forage and nest at great heights, sometimes as high as 15 meters in the forest canopy, which make sightings incredibly rare. Continue reading “Rare Sightings;the Thick-billed Flowerpecker”

Rock Chicks – with a twist!

Wildlife is our business, but this special sighting took even us by surprise!

On an evening walk in a sleepy corner of Sri Lanka’s east coast, south of the popular surfing town Arugambay, we came across a birders’ dream! ! A pair of recently-hatched chicks on Crocodile Rock … read on to see which species!

While commercial tourism [with the great tunnel-vision that it is known for] promotes Arugambay is a “surfing destination”, its proximity to wildlife and sites of archeological significance are often overlooked (maybe just as well!) 🙂

We often do a guided a walk to explore the area surrounding our beach bungalow Kudakalliya, a few clicks south of Arugambay and away from the busy area of the town.

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Kudakalliya Bungalow overlooks a little estuary teeming with wildlife. Look closely to see one of the wild elephants who visit us !

That evening, we were exploring the mass of rocks and lagoons around “Crocodile Rock” which sits directly opposite our bungalow. The rock complex is flanked by beach, the ocean, a brackish water estuary and paddy fields. The combination results in some phenomenal biodiversity!

A walk on crocodile rock is usually an exercise of hypothesising and piecing together the history of this area, which appears to hold fascinating tales of ancient civilisation. A simple example of which is the series of steps cut out into the rock (with meticulous workmanship mind you).

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Fascinating archeological site – these steps are centuries old. Who lived here? Geographically in the middle of nowhere, but archeologically this rock is flanked by a gorgeous beach, an estuary, fed by inland fresh water and jungle. Whoever lived here had perfected the art of chilling 🙂 

The captivating vistas that merges the gold, blue, green and golden hues of paddy, jungle, beach and waterways keep you staring out over the horizon at the best of times, and amidst our guides’ chatter about the history of this area and how people may have lived here and what they may have done here centuries ago, we almost missed this pair of Great Thick-knee (Great Stone Plover) chicks, hidden beautifully with the contours and colours of the rock!!

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Cute! If you like your baby birds packing attitude 🙂

They were huddled together quietly trying to avoid drawing attention to themselves while preserving the last of the warmth of the rock as the sun on another stunning Arugambay evening.  The mother was probably out scouring for some grub before nightfall and would return shortly so we quickly left them, undisturbed.

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Camouflaged too well for most predators…

Hmmmm who lived here?

Unlike mammals, baby birds can look quite different to their grown up plumage – below is an adult Great Thick-knee at our Kulu Safaris campsite, one of the best accommodation options on the border of Yala National Park.

 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BU4QtVtFNxa/?taken-by=shehanrama

Kudakalliya is the ideal location for the adventure seeker with a discerning taste for wildlife. A relaxed beach holiday that is enriched with wildlife at your door-step, Kumana National Park within an hour’s drive away, and the world famous Arugambay surf town a few doors down is quite compelling 🙂 But by law, we have to provide the disclaimer that once you spend a few days here, off-grid, in the company of waves, elephants, birds and spicy Sri Lankan food, there is a high risk of saying “F*&%-it” to your urban life 🙂

We look forward to receiving those who dare!

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View from our bungalow – a pair of wild bull elephants begin their evening supper on the fodder of an off-season paddy field.