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Asian Elephant in Sri Lanka

Asian Elephant in Sri Lanka

Elephants are Sri Lanka's most important wildlife attraction. They have been revered throughout Asia for centuries, and play an important part in culture, religion, war, and history. They also play an important role in the preservation of the forests. The largest terrestrial mammals on the continent are Asian elephants. They can grow up to 6.4m long and 3m at their shoulder, and they can weigh as high as 5 tons. There are three types of Asian elephants: the Sumatran, Indian and Sri Lankan. The Indian elephant has the largest range and is responsible for most of the elephants remaining on the continent. Physically, the Sri Lankan subspecies are the largest and darkest.

The Sri Lankan elephant population has been confined to the northern, eastern and southeast regions of Sri Lanka. Although elephants can be found in Udawalawe National Park as well as Yala National Park and Lunugamvehera National Parks, Wilpattu National Park, Wilpattu National Park, Wilpattu National Park, Wilpattu National Park, Minneriya National Park, and Lunugamvehera National Parks, they also exist outside of protected areas. Sri Lanka is home to the largest concentration of elephants in Asia, with Udawalawe National Park being known for its guaranteed elephant sightings throughout every year. Minneriya National Park is home to the Minneriya Elephant Gathering. This is the largest gathering of elephants in Asia during the dry season.

No. The Lonely Planets guide to wildlife spectacles in the world ranks it 6; all you need to do is watch these enormous animals play, drink and eat the lush green grass exposed by the Minneriya Tank's receding waters. This small area is alive with life and home to more than 300 elephants who have travelled from Sri Lanka's North Central Province. This isn't a migration but an annual gathering of wild animals. The sweet water of the Minneriya tank attracts herds from as far away as Kantale.

For over two thousand years, elephants have been a part of Sinhalese heraldry. This was even more so during British colonial rule. An elephant was featured on the coat of arms of Ceylon Government, as well as the flag from 1948 to 1875. Many institutions still use the Sri Lankan elephant for their insignia and coat of arms. The elephant and human cultures have been inseparable for more than two thousand years. No religious procession was complete with its entourage of elephants. Many large Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka also had their own elephants.

General Information of Asian Elephant

● Scientific Name : Elephas maximus

● Kingdom : Animals

● Class :Mammalia

● Order :Proboscidea

● Family :Elephantidae

● Genus :Elephas

● Species : Maximus

● Weight: 2000 kg to 5400 kg (sex dependent)

● Size: 2.4 to 2.7 m height

● Diet: Herbivore

● Locations: Bangladesh,Bhutan,Cambodia,China,India,Indonesia,Lao People's Democratic Republic,Malaysia,Myanmar,Nepal,Sri Lanka,Thailand,Viet Nam

● Population Trend: Decreasing

● Conservation Status: Endangered

Physical of Asian Elephant

An elephant's most distinctive feature is its size. The elephant's large size is a sign of their unique anatomical, physiological, and behavioral adaptations. Elephants consume approximately 150-300 kg of plant matter daily and have a large digestive system to support this.

They are built to support weight.

Through evolution, their nose has become a trunk. Their mouth is high above the ground which allows them to reach water and food. The trunk of a mature elephant is approximately 2.5m long. It has around 40,000 muscles that control its movements. The elephant trunk, a multi-functional organ that can perform a variety of complex movements, is second only behind the human hand. It is used by elephants for many activities, including feeding, drinking, squirting water, and for tactile contact with other elephants. This plays an important role in their social interaction.

The external ears of their ears have been enlarged. The enlarged ears allow them to maintain a constant body heat. Elephants use their ears to show aggression, fear, and cohesion. The unique folds, depigmentation marks and shapes of the ears can help identify individual elephants. They are like a human fingerprint.

Their teeth are able to grind plant matter. Elephants will have 24 molars in six sets, one on each side of their upper and lower jaws. At any given moment, only 8 teeth are present. An elephant's tooth is replaced horizontally, which is unlike any other mammal.

The growth of the second incisors on the upper jaw are called tusks in elephants. African elephants have both males as well as females who bear tusks. Asian elephants have only males with tusks. Females can have a shorter tushe that does not protrude. In Sri Lanka, less than 11% of males have tusks.


Elephants eat large amounts of plant matter so it is difficult to overcome plant defenses. Plants have two types of defenses to prevent them from being eaten by herbivores: chemical and physical.

Chemical defenses involve the production of toxic chemicals in plants and require large amounts of energy. This type of defense is most commonly used by long-lived plants. Thorns, which are physical defenses, require less energy and are preferred by shorter-lived plant species. Elephants prefer to live in degraded forests where these short-lived plants are plentiful.


For thousands of years, farmers in Sri Lanka have been cultivating shifting (or "chena") crops. This has led to the growth secondary forests. Secondary forest, or scrub jungle, is the habitat for elephants and is responsible for Sri Lanka's high number of them.

Asian elephants used to have an island-wide distribution in the past. The forests of the wet zones were made into plantations and the elephants were considered pests. They were removed from the zone, except for two small herds that were found in Sinharaja or Peak wilderness.

The elephants today are restricted to the intermediate and dry zones. They continue to lose the majority of their range because of the rapid development that has taken place since independence. Large-scale development projects, such as Gal Oya or Mahaweli, were undertaken in the dry zone after Sri Lanka gained independence.

This led to a further loss in elephant habitat, and elephants became more aggressive towards humans.

Elephant conservation in Sri Lanka

The history Sri Lanka of elephants dates back thousands years. When Sri Lanka's kings had thousands of them in their royal stables, his subjects weren't allowed to capture them without his permission. The colonization of Sri Lanka resulted in a rapid decline in elephant numbers from the 16th century onwards. Much of the habitat they had in the wet zones was destroyed to make room for agriculture, while wild elephants were used for sport.

The Sri Lankan Elephant population is thought to have fallen by almost 65% since the beginning of the 19th century. Although the death penalty is not enforced, elephants in Sri Lanka are now protected by local laws. The human–elephant conflict is a major challenge for elephant conservation in Sri Lanka. It is growing due to conversion of elephant habitats to settlements and permanent agriculture. Around 200 elephants are killed each year, most likely due to gunshot injuries from farmers protecting their crops, electrocution and trap guns.

More than 100 elephants are kept in private homes by wealthy families and several Buddhist temples. There aren't many elephant riding camps in Sri Lanka like in other Asian countries. However, some attractions offer elephant riding as a tourist activity. It is also not uncommon to see elephants riding during religious events in the country.

In Buddhism and Sri Lankan culture, elephants are revered as a symbol for prosperity. Elephants are still used in Buddhist ceremonies and rituals to carry Buddhist relics. The most well-known being the Kandy Esala Perahera, central Sri Lanka. These processions have deep cultural and religious roots. However, it was discovered that an severely dehydrated elephant was being used at night for the festival. Later, the Minister of Tourism Development, Wildlife & Christian Religious Affairs issued a statement. He ordered an inquiry into the use of the elephant in the pageant, and that action be taken against those responsible. He also directed government veterinarians inspect all elephants held captive.

It is difficult to believe that the use of elephants in Sri Lankan religion is not linked with its culture or traditions. It would be ideal that no elephants were shackled or held captive in an ideal world. This is why we need to continue our efforts to make this a reality. These include the creation of elephant corridors, the expansion of protected areas, the translocation of bull elephants, the erection and maintenance of electric fencing, as well as raising awareness in local communities. There is always more to be done.

The Sri Lankan national parks have strict rules regarding game drives. This is to ensure that wildlife can be protected from tourists and safari jeeps. Sections of Yala National Park are closed annually to allow the animals to rest and recuperate. There are many things that can be done to improve the situation. For example, too many safari jeep drivers are roaming freely in parks, harassing elephants and cornering wild animal. Even worse, elephants can be pushed to the edge and retaliated against by turning jeeps at the national parks.

The government continues to take steps against wildlife provocateurs and illegally killing and capturing elephants. In June 2019, eight people were arrested in Sri Lanka in a case that saw many baby elephants being captured and sold as status symbols to the wealthy. Around 40 calves were possibly taken from their herds over a period of 10 years and sold at a price of US$125,000 per head. The government had previously arrested five people for killing an elephant. They also broke up their poaching networks in 2017.

Best Place to see Elephant in Sri Lanka

Udawalawe National Park

You are sure to have a great adventure on your wildlife safari in Udawalawe National Park. The Udawalawe National Park is known for being the best place in Sri Lanka to spot the Sri Lankan Elephant. There are many other species that you can also admire. A visit to the Udawalawe Elephant Sanctuary will be one of your most memorable trips on the island.

The Elephant Sanctuary is located in Udawalawe and serves as a home for orphaned or injured baby elephants from all over the island. After being taken care of, the animals are nursed back to health and released back into their natural habitats. The sanctuary is an ethical sanctuary that allows residents to freely roam the grounds and doesn't restrict them to any kind of cages or chains. It is best to visit during the weekdays, as there are fewer visitors on weekends and holidays. Visitors are not permitted to touch the elephants, but they are allowed to enter the sanctuary during elephant feeding hours when the calves receive milk every 3-4 hours from 9am-6pm.

Yala National Park

Yala is home to elephants, and more elephants. A 4x4 safari trip to Sri Lanka is not something you associate with Sri Lanka. Yala National Park is a great place to see a lot of African wildlife. I've been on many African Safari holidays. Although it is odd that there aren't lions, leopards, or giraffes in the park at first glance, there are many other animals to be seen.

The large number of roaming Asian Elephant family members is a major tourist draw to Yala. You can see them at their watering holes in the morning and afternoon. If you're in a small group, find a small pond to park and set up.

Be patient and observe what you drink. Be patient. This can be hard to do when there are large groups who rush around the park. It is important to not limit yourself to a morning tour. You should go all day. Spend time looking at nature. You shouldn't be stumbling around on a bumpy, dusty all-terrain vehicle.

The elephants seek shade in the midday heat. According to many tourist guides, this is not a good time to see animals. This is false. It is important to be more attentive with your eyes. You will find elephants in shade if you look closely. Later, you can join them on an afternoon hike to the nearest river.

Minneriya National Park

Minneriya National Park, a protected 8890-hectare reserve in Sri Lanka's Cultural Triangle, is home to one of the most important elephant phenomena. Each year, groups of elephants congregate around the Minneriya Tank. This ancient waterbody, covering 4670 acres, was constructed by King Mahasena, the "tank-building" King. It is a large and ancient waterbody that has been in existence since the 3rd Century. The tank is the center of the reserve and never runs dry so elephants can drink from it whenever other sources are unavailable.

The Gathering is a term for this phenomenon that lasts until October's monsoon. Gehan de Silva Wijerathne, a renowned naturalist from Sri Lanka, coined the term. Since then, thousands of people have visited these magnificent creatures to see them in their natural habitat. The tank is home to up to 300 elephants at any given time. It's also the largest gathering of Asian elephants anywhere in the world. Minneriya is part of an elephant corridor linking Kaudulla, Wasgamuwa and other national parks in Sri Lanka's North Central Region.

Kaudulla National Park

In 2002, Kaudulla National Park opened. This park gives elephants more space in the wild and connects to the elephant corridor that runs between Minneriya National Park to the south and Wasgomuwa National Park to the north. Kaudulla also links to Somawathiya National Park in the east. Kaudulla reservoir is the heart of the park and attracts large herd’s elephants in the dry season. To see large numbers of elephants, September and October are the best months to visit Kaudulla. In the middle of the elephant domains, the Habarana Road was also counted. These beasts are often encountered by vehicles travelling to/from Kaudulla National Park in the evening.

Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home

Udawalawe Elephant transits home, also known udawalawe orphanage. The Elephant Transit Home's primary function is to release and rehabilitate baby elephants into the wild. In 1995, the Ministry of Wildlife Conservation made an important step towards protecting orphan elephants. "Ath Athuru Sevana," (Elephant Transit House) was created at Udawalawe National Park.

Elephant Transit Home (ETH), cares for orphaned elephant calves, until they become independent and able to be released into the wild. While the majority of the public supported this effort, conservationists were skeptical at first.

Komali refers to the first orphaned baby elephant.

One-year-old female elephant was the first baby elephant to be cared for by Athuru Sevana. She was found alone in the forest in the Anuradhapura area, near the Meegalawa. Dr. Nandana atapattu brought her elephant calf to ETH. She named her Komali and registered her as its first resident. "ETH has cared for more than 200 elephants since then. When they are old enough to care for themselves, all wild elephants orphaned by humans are released into their natural habitats.

Feeding to Baby elephant

Transit Home is an active place. Calves need to be fed milk three times a day, 365 days a calendar. Elephant Transit Home elephant calves feed once per three hours. that can become agitated if it is delayed in its feedings. The pathetic cry of the elephants and their demands for milk are painful to hear. It takes patience and care to adapt orphaned elephant calves for powdered milk.

Generally, calves are fed human baby formulas. After initial milk feeding sessions to determine the best milk formulas for elephant calves and to adjust to them individually, elephants may become more susceptible to digestive problems or milk intolerance. Special preparations like soy milk, rice broth or jeevanee (a water rehydration solution) can be used to replace milk in these cases.

One or more elephant calves will become sick every day. Because elephants are slow to recover, post-disease care can be a lengthy process. It can be difficult to separate the contagious and sick elephants from the healthy ones. ETH officials face another challenge in managing elephant calves' health and welfare without any support from the labs or due to the lack of experience and medical knowledge in the country.

Public viewing of feedings is allowed daily at 10.30 a.m. and 2.30 p.m. respectively, and at 6:05 p.m.