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.
Wilpattu 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:
- Wilpattu deforestation investigation by air as attempts to obtain footage are obstructed
- Indications that destruction of Wilpattu National Park is ongoing (Watch Report)
- 500 acres cleared in Kal Aru forest adjoining Wilpattu
- Wilpattu houses under wildlife fire
- Environmentalists to fight Wilpattu clearance in court
- The Sunday Times Sri Lanka Protect Wilpattu- a precious national treasure
Various 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
One of the many villu and safari trails
Mugger crocodile - distant and closer up
Birdlife around the villu
An eagle on the hunt and a sambar deer
Peacocks - in the tree and on the trail
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...