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Volume 23 - October 2021


Dear Colleague

As part of our efforts to provide an enriched experience to our loyal partners and guests, we are happy to present the humorous and information-packed Volume 23 of the Ceylon Wilderness Digest. 

Happy reading! 

Eco Team - Sri Lanka

Your Sri Lankan wilderness specialist


“What the… don’t sneak up on me like that dude!”

A quick chat with Yasa, a young leopard

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“Dude, this could have ended very badly for you! Why are you sneaking around? Oh you wanted a picture? Cool cool cool. Good thing Suba stayed calm. Who’s Suba? He’s my brother dude. Over there to your left… your other left, in the bush, see those eyes watching you? That’s him. Doesn’t talk much, amazing at camouflage and a deadly hunter. I’m Yasa by the way. This is our territory you are trespassing in. We were born and raised here in Aluthwewa, and now that we’re young adults, everyone knows who the bosses are around here… everyone, except you. Don’t worry, we won’t hurt you, you seem like a nice guy.”


Fun Facts

“My brother and I share everything, from territory to the kills. It’s unusual, I know. Leopards are always solitary creatures, but the two of us have always had such a great bond since we were cubs. I’ll let you in on a secret... Hunting is soooo much easier when you do it as a pair! The Sambar have no chance and even the skittish Langurs and Hares are easy prey. We just chase them into each other's jaws dude. Too easy! Soon we will be even bigger and all of Yala will be our territory! Anyways, next time you see us dude, don’t sneak up, just ask and we’ll pose for some pictures ok?”


Story of the photo

Dilum got a great shot of the young male Yasa, at Heenwewa in Yala whilst on a morning safari. His brother, unfortunately, chose to stay in the bushes and not make an appearance. The Mahoora Tented Safari Camp in Yala is located strategically to offer access to several different Blocks of Yala National Park, making it the ideal starting point for some amazing leopard encounters.


Where did that juicy mouse go?

Meet the Thalagoya, an always hungry but shy member of the lizard community

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Wiggle, wiggle and it’s gone! That’s the usual scene when a Thalagoya (Bengal Monitor) spots you. Unlike its cousin the Water Monitor, this shy lizard is quite harmless to people, stays put on land and spends most of its time in pursuit of gastronomic delights. Almost anything small is on the menu, from frogs, crabs, centipedes, ants, hares, eggs, and rodents, to even bats roosting up in the trees! How does it get up there you may ask? Well it's all thanks to its legendary grip which lets even fully-grown, chunky Thalagoyas over 5 feet in length, easily climb up trees! This peaceful creature doesn’t really like the cold or night time, so it can be commonly found in warmer parts of the Island, rooting about looking for its next meal!


(Not so) Fun Facts

The Thalagoya is occasionally hunted and cooked as a curry in Sri Lanka. Of all the cuts, the cooked tongue of the creature is the most coveted and is inserted into a ripe, hollowed out banana and offered to the person who made the kill. Although never proven scientifically, the tongue is also said to cure stammering and asthma. Apart from that, Thalagoya fat is boiled down and used in a wide variety of folk remedies and the skin is used in making drums. Thankfully, this is not a widespread practice, so the Thalagoya population continues to thrive in Sri Lanka!


Story of the photo

Occasionally, the Thalagoya will stand up on its hind legs to get a better view and Dilum was able to capture this moment when he was on Safari in Mahapathessa in Wilpattu National Park. Don’t be alarmed if you encounter one when you are walking around one of the Mahoora Tented Safari Camps, as they seem to feel safe wriggling across the peaceful setting of the campsite and will certainly not bother you!


“Open wide”

A Toque Macaque’s visit to the Dentist

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“Ah Simon, I see you’ve finally stopped by for your long overdue check up! Now open wide… oh my! Such terrible teeth! Someone has been eating too many squirrels and small mice eh? You do know that you should be eating mostly fruits garnished with a few flowers and mushrooms don’t you? Or did you miss that whilst daydreaming at the Lower Left Branch School for Macaques? Why aren’t you replying? Oh silly me, of course you can’t, I’ve got your mouth wide open. Nevermind, in future, little prey is only to be consumed as a dessert… got it?”


 Fun Facts

“Now you have to make a serious attempt at shaping up your diet alright? Because you are 6 years old and the time is right for you to leave the troop. No, don’t try to argue. You can’t anyway because I have your mouth open. Simon, you aren’t big enough to challenge the alpha male and you’re pretty far down the hierarchical structure in this troop as well. Best thing to do is to go out there, be charming and put together a troop of your own. Keep it down to 8 to 10 members at first and then expand to the full 40 member troop slowly. I think you’ll grow into a great alpha male if you are patient... and eat fewer squirrels.”


Story of the photo

Dilum captured this dental visit in Wilpattu National Park earlier this year. This species is endemic to Sri Lanka and since it is quite used to people, presents wonderful opportunities for getting great photos. Often they can be seen frequenting the trees of the Mahoora Tented Safari Camps as they are found in most parts of the Island.


“Tremble before me, I am the Dark Lord of the Skies!”

Encountering a Leschenault's Rousette bat

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“Why do you not tremble? Do you not see my vicious fangs? My gargantuan wings that blot out the night sky? My fearsome… alright, alright, fine… I’m not a Dark Lord. You startled me while I was eating and this was the best story I could come up with. What? No, I don’t get any bigger than this. You can pretty much fit me in the palm of your hand. No I won’t suck your blood out. Who does that anyway? Don’t be silly. Next thing you’ll ask me is if I can transform into a human. Please. I love being a bat. You can come close and chat, I won’t nip at you. Not unless you were a juicy mango. I love mangoes, well I love all fruit actually, hence the name Fruit Bat!”


Fun Facts

“Do I have siblings? Hah. You clearly know nothing about my kind. We fruit bats live in colonies and there are literally thousands of us in a colony! This shouldn’t really be a surprise because we are known to have babies every 6 months or so. I’m surprised that we don’t have a million in our colony at this rate. Where do we live? Oh, anywhere that’s dark and peaceful like caves, tunnels or even old abandoned buildings. You should try it, it’s very Zen.”

Story of the photo

Dilum startled this bat feeding on a mango near Yala National Park, but still managed to get a great shot. Guests staying at Mahoora Tented Safari Camps can easily spot these furtive creatures on guided night walks around the camps, as they feast on the abundant fruit in and around the campsites.


Our Photographer :

Dilum Madushanka (@safari_sailor) a Marine engineer by profession. Following his motto : Six months in the Sea and Six months in the Jungle, a great nature enthusiast with an uncanny ability to capture the best moments of the wild.His passion is to bring awareness to everyone about the fascinating great outdoors through his photos and videos.