Monday, July 20, 2015

Travel Monday: Revisiting Wilpattu National Park - Beauty, Nature and Controversy

If you've been following this blog and my travels, then you will have noticed my profound passion for the national parks across Sri Lanka. I visit regularly, also taking advantage of any opportunity to tag along with visiting family and friends wishing to see something nature-based and adventurous. Just last week, I had the good fortune to accompany my visiting mother and relatives to the oldest and largest national park in Sri Lanka - Wilpattu National Park in the north-west coastal lowland dry zone of the island. And it was delightful to witness my mother enthusing about the jeep safari experience. It's only her second experience on safari and she even managed to spot the back of a female leopard, much to our surprise, and various other wildlife.

I visited Wilpattu for the first time back in 2013 and wrote a short blog post "Jeep Safari of Wilpattu National Park" posting a few of my favorite photos from that visit. Admittedly, I've only spent 12-15 hours in total within the wildlife park. It is definitely not much at all considering the park is 1,317 km² in size, is abundant in amazing inhabitants and incredible landscape. You'll need to spend more time in the park to see all the wildlife and capture those priceless photographs. It is down to luck at times as the park rangers will tell you. One ranger joked with me saying "This is not a zoo where we enclose the animals or chain them up for viewing... if you're lucky you'll see them, otherwise, come back another day!" And, you know what? He's right about that.

Eva Stone photo, Wilpattu, national park, jeep, Sri LankaWilpattu has been a hot topic in recent years, and more significantly on local news and political airwaves in recent months, over alleged deforestation, encroachment, violation of archeological regulations, and illegal settlements around Wilpattu:


Eva Stone photo, Wilpattu, national park, Sri LankaVarious petitions have been filed to against certain government organizations and representatives in connection with continued deforestation of land.

Despite all this, the national park is still one of the precious wonders of Sri Lanka. It's actually quieter than visiting Yala or Minneriya, probably due it's location and size. However, one hopes the powers that be will do the right thing by Wilpattu and its wildlife inhabitants.



On our recent visit  we did an afternoon to early evening safari (as opposed to the early to late morning safari I did the first time around). The weather was mild, which was a lovely treat considering it can get swelteringly hot up in the northwest dry zone this time of year! As you'll see from some of the photos, there was plenty of different wildlife and beautiful scenery to take in and enjoy... Unfortunately, I wasn't able to capture the female leopard on film, but there is always next time for chasing those elusive Sri Lanka kotiya...

Wild elephant and grey langur monkeys

Eva Stone photo, Wilpattu, national park, wildlife, Sri LankaEva Stone photo, Wilpattu, national park, wildlife, Sri Lanka

One of the many villu and safari trails

Eva Stone photo, Wilpattu, national park, Sri LankaEva Stone photo, Wilpattu, national park, Sri Lanka

Wild buffalo

Eva Stone photo, Wilpattu, national park, wildlife, Sri LankaEva Stone photo, Wilpattu, national park, wildlife, Sri Lanka

Mugger crocodile - distant and closer up

Eva Stone photo, Wilpattu, national park, wildlife, Sri LankaEva Stone photo, Wilpattu, national park, wildlife, Sri Lanka

 Birdlife around the villu

Eva Stone photo, Wilpattu, national park, wildlife, Sri LankaEva Stone photo, Wilpattu, national park, wildlife, Sri Lanka

Eva Stone photo, Wilpattu, national park, Sri LankaEva Stone photo, Wilpattu, national park, wildlife, Sri Lanka

 The view around the lakes, villus

Eva Stone photo, Wilpattu, national park, jeep, Sri LankaEva Stone photo, Wilpattu, national park, lake, Sri Lanka

 An eagle on the hunt and a sambar deer

Eva Stone photo, Wilpattu, national park, wildlife, Sri LankaEva Stone photo, Wilpattu, national park, wildlife, Sri Lanka

 Peacocks - in the tree and on the trail

Eva Stone photo, Wilpattu, national park, wildlife, Sri LankaEva Stone photo, Wilpattu, national park, wildlife, Sri Lanka

On a final note, I've included a short 15 second video taken at Wilpattu around one of the villus. The sounds of the birds, wind and nature are quite special...





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