Leopards: Our National Treasure

Sri Lanka is no doubt a treasure chest of bio-diversity and a traveler's paradise. Due to its vastly different environmental conditions, the island is commonly hailed for its array of wildlife. From blue whales to dolphins and the endemic sloth bear, it is a nature enthusiast's dream. This is also a land much revered in which to conduct studies on leopards (Panthera pardus kotiya). Many have visited in lieu of this, publishing invaluable information enabling conscious protection and conservation methods of this endangered species.

A truly majestic creature, the Sri Lankan leopard can be seen at Yala National Park and Wilpattu National Park. The former is recorded to contain the highest density of leopards worldwide. Adding to this, it is also the only large mammalian predator in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan subspecies was first detailed in 1956 by the Sri Lankan zoologist Deraniyagala.

Yala safaris are plentiful with numerous accommodation providers offering this excursion. The trips begin at around 4am usually in order to set off at dawn and possibly have the chance of witnessing the animals coming out in search of their first meal for the day. Leopards can be highly elusive creatures however, and it does take some patience and perseverance to catch sight of one. Take care to not harass them in any manner or form, and not be aggressive towards them. The park is a UNESCO world heritage site where a large variety of nature can be experienced and it is of utmost importance to not disturb the environment unnecessarily.

Leopards are in grave risk classifying as an endangered species. Whilst conservation methods are under way, continuous deforestation and habitat destruction have contributed towards the decline of these mighty felines. Numerous researchers are conducting study on the best preventative measures in order to safeguard their future. Their demise could have harsh ramifications on the ecological system.

If you are visiting Yala, an investment in a good camera would be worthwhile. Sloth bears, peacocks, elephants and other forms of birds and vegetation can be observed. You can arrange to have an experienced guide accompany you on your exploration so you will be assured of an enriching and rewarding adventure.