Udawalawe National Park is an excellent destination to see elephants, with herds of 50 to 60 individuals regularly seen and game drives are in open-top jeeps and accompanied by local wildlife guides.
The Sri Lankan elephant, a distinct sub-species of the mainland Asian elephant of India and Thailand, is the easiest to see. Its gentle demeanor and indomitable size has made this gentle giant a much-loved wildlife icon the world over.
Although as many as 10,000 elephant roamed Sri Lanka at the turn of the century, only some 5,000 live in the wild today. This is largely to the ’Human Elephant Conflict’ (HEC) that leads to the death of 150-200 elephants each year, causing its classification as an endangered species.
Besides elephant, other mammal species in the park include, sambar, chital and wild boar. Dry zone birdlife includes greyheaded fish eagle, black-shouldered kite, changeable hawk eagle, crested serpent eagle, white-bellied sea eagle, shikra, common kestrel, brown fish owl and western marsh harrier.
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