Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wildlife Photography: Sri Lankan Leopard

This summer when I was at Yala National Park in South East Sri Lanka, I had a good wildlife experience, but the leopard (known as diviya in Sinhala; don’t get misled by locals referring to it as Kotiya, which is Sinhala for tiger) eluded me. When I went there again post the monsoons, my luck changed. I was at Yala for an entire day and got treated to two leopard sightings.

Sri Lankan Leopard in monochrome 
The first one I saw was a young one perched on a tree in the early hours of the morning. I got to see him playing with twigs, climbing up different tree branches and glaring at us intruders. It was a wonderful experience to see this young leopard playing his antics.

I guess now he starts noticing us in the safari jeeps 
The second one was an adult male that was sitting on the jeep track in the late afternoon. Jungle safari jeeps had surrounded the Sri Lankan leopard on both sides of the road and all the tourists were going clickety-click with their cameras, but he continued resting. It was as if he had no care for the world around him at that moment. After all, he is king of Yala and is at the top of the food chain here.

Leopard perched on a leafless tree at Yala National Park 
After resting on the jeep track for 15 minutes and giving tourists on both sides a great photography experience, he walked slowly towards my jeep before heading into the bushes.

The Sri Lankan Leopard walks on the jeep track and towards us 
These two sightings of the Sri Lankan Leopard made this a memorable day for me at Yala National Park. There is something about the tiger and leopard. Their sheer presence can send your adrenalin pumping and pulse racing!!

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