English,  Travel/Cestovanie

Sri Lanka: Safari trip and how to spot warnings from elephants

A safari in Sri Lanka offers the opportunity to watch elephants in their natural habitat. During my last visit of the island I did not hesitate and went elephant-watching again. We were lucky right from the start and encountered a small family of elephants. They were peacefully grazing near the road, so we watched them for a while. They lost interest before we did. As we continued, the number of elephants we saw increased, and soon we encountered larger herds. This group also had adorable baby elephants following their mothers. However, we didn’t seem to be popular with the young males. They were grazing the grass at first, but after a while, they retreated to the trees for a tactical meeting. What followed was pawing at the ground and snorting, then warning trumpeting and finally charging towards the jeep. The driver must have had experience, as he quickly reversed and drove away. 🙂

Overall, we saw about 30 elephants that day and it was fascinating to observe them. Elephants are one of Sri Lanka’s most iconic wildlife species and play a vital role in the country’s ecology and culture.

  • Sri Lanka is home to the highest density of elephants in Asia, with the population estimated at about 5,000 to 6,000. The elephants in Sri Lanka are primarily found in protected areas such as national parks and reserves. Major parks like Yala, Minneriya and Udawalawe offer significant sanctuaries for these animals.
  • Sri Lankan elephants (Elephas maximus maximus) exhibit complex social structures. Female elephants (cows) live in tightly-knit matriarchal family groups, which consist of mothers, daughters, sisters and aunts. These groups are led by the oldest and often largest female, known as the matriarch. Male elephants (bulls) usually live a more solitary life, especially as they grow older. They leave their natal groups as they reach adolescence, around the age of 12-15 years and may form temporary associations with other males or live alone.
  • Elephants have a long gestation period, lasting about 22 months, which is one of the longest among mammals. Females usually give birth to one calf every 4 to 5 years.
  • Elephants in the wild typically live for 60 to 70 years, but their lifespan can vary based on environmental conditions, health and the level of conservation effort and protection they receive.
  • Family ties among elephants are exceptionally strong and are crucial for survival, especially for the calves. Young elephants are cared for by the entire family unit, not just the biological mother.
  • Elephants are herbivores and consume a wide variety of vegetation, including grasses, leaves, bark, fruit, and a range of crops such as banana and sugarcane. An adult elephant can eat up to 150 kg (330 lbs) of food per day. Due to their large dietary needs, elephants often come into conflict with humans, especially when they venture into farmland.












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