A recent visit to the popular Uda Walawe National Park (UWNP) saw the park quite dry, with the beginning of the long drought period. Most of the smaller water holes were bone dry, and animals were scarce and not so easy to spot. The park has many large water holes or tanks ( wewas) which is why it boasts possibly of a total population of some 700 or more elephants ( on-going research of Dr. Shermin de Silva)
We came across a small star tortoise (Geocheloneelegans) , a greatly sought after but protected animal, slowy crossing the main road and after asking the tracker to stop the jeep, we gently carried the small fellow to the side, into the grass, lest he be accidentally run over by a careless driver.
While driving along the main road my son Dimitri spotted two elephants near the thekkewewe( the teak forest water hole) and we quickly backtracked there. And weren’t we lucky. There were two males, one more senior and a younger companion, who had come down to the water. For the next half hour we watched the two majestic animals drinking, spraying themselves with water and mud bathing. They were well aware of our presence but were quite relaxed.