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@inyathiMany thanks for taking the time to post an accurate ID and species details for the Whip Scorpion / Spider. Appreciated.


@kittykat23ukI assume you have read the latest SL trip report on MW including yet another Pangolin sighting from Sigiriya, perhaps it is a Pangolin hotspot after all. I have done a detailed scale comparison of the animal I saw and the one in the latest report and they are definitely different animals.


@michael-ibkGlad you are finding the report interesting, when I get finished I want to read your latest Uganda report in detail. I was in Uganda about a month after you and visited most of your locations, tracked the same Gorilla group, spent time with Gordon etc. Our trip had a slightly different emphasis to yours, we were trying for a Golden Cat sighting, so we did lots of nocturnal work. (Yet again). Unfortunately it didn't work out but it wasn't for the lack of trying and my own view is that we were close. We did record some interesting mammals and visited a relatively new location close to Entebbe which was excellent for Angolan (Ruwenzori) Colobus.


@KitsafariNot sure I heard the scales rattling, but I certainly was. Thanks for reading.


SIGIRIYA (Part 3), Outskirts of KANDY, NUWARA ELIYA. 


The day after the Pangolin sighting we actually had a late start, met for lunch and then headed out to Habarana Eco Park, this was a substitute location as Minneriya N.P. was closed due to flooding. When the itinerary was developed I mentioned I wanted to take some Elephant images, as it turned out we saw Elephants at several locations but the only one in Sri Lanka  where you are guaranteed an Elephant sighting is Udawalawa N.P., hence I think the operator had all bases covered.



Lousy shot but have included it as it was the only image I got of a SRI LANKA GREY HORNBILL. Endemic. They are not as common as the Malabar Pied Hornbill and are more camera shy. This shot was taken in the hotel grounds as we went for lunch, I was half asleep and unprepared, hence the lack of a full tail, it certainly didn't give me a second chance.


As the Hornbill flew off something moved in the adjacent tree. I was better prepared this time.



SRI LANKAN GIANT SQUIRREL / GRIZZLED INDIAN SQUIRREL. ssp. dandolena, also found in southern India. There are 3 subspecies of this Squirrel found on the island, this was the only ssp. we saw.


 The image below is of an INDIAN GIANT SQUIRREL, shown for comparative purposes.


sp. indica. Taken in Satpura N.P. 2020. The Giant Squirrels of India and Sri Lanka are quite a complicated group of mammals, there are 3 types, Giant, Grizzled and Giant Flying, each with several ssp.









SRL LANKAN ELEPHANT. Habarana was home to lots of Elephants, many with young.



As previously mentioned I particularly like to see Elephants in forest settings.



These ASIAN GREEN BEE-EATERS were taking a dust bath on the track as we left the park.


The final evening session began with the customary visit to some caves located near yet another temple, the Lead Monk gave us a blessing before we climbed hundreds of steps to the cave.404A3211.JPG.22140596b614fafb22a2f5cd3ed7543d.JPG




JUNGLE CAT. Seen hunting in a pasture, this was the only Jungle Cat we saw on the trip, I expected to see more.




We saw several Domestic Cat X Jungle Cat hybrids on this trip, this individual was thought to be pure bred.


Later that night we had a good sighting of a GOLDEN (DRY ZONE) PALM CIVET. Endemic



It's pelage was distinctly light brown hardly golden in colour, nevertheless this is a Golden Palm Civet.



Altogether we observed 4 different Civets, Small Indian, Asian Palm. Sri Lankan Brown Palm and Golden ( Dry Zone) Palm on this trip.



GIANT FLYING SQUIRREL, a record shot taken from a considerable distance. Not commonly seen. Quite a large mammal.




As we approached our hotel this JERDON'S NIGHTJAR posed for us on a fence post. Jerdon's and Indian Nightjars were commonly seen on our night drives. I was hoping for a Frogmouth but unfortunately it was not to be, this time. I find Nightjars absolutely fascinating.


The following morning we left for our hotel on the outskirts of Kandy, the hotel was chosen as it had excellent grounds for birding, was also a reliable location for Toque Macaques (Wet Zone) and a good site at dusk to see Giant Flying Squirrels, flying, which indeed we did observe.



A particularly stunning example of a YELLOW-BROWED BULBUL.



TOQUE MACAQUE (Wet zone, ssp. aurifrons). Endemic.





After a night on the outskirts of Kandy we headed for Nuwara Eliya in the Central Highlands, it was a very pleasant drive with some spectacular scenery particularly as we gained elevation. This area is the heart of the tea growing industry.



TOQUE MACAQUE (Hill Zone ssp. opisthomelas.) Endemic. Taken at Pussallawa in the Highlands. It is worth pointing out that during this trip all 3 subspecies of Toque Macaque and all 4 subspecies of Purple-faced Leaf Monkeys were observed. (Some images to follow).


During our time at Nuwara Eliya a covid related issue forced us to amend the itinerary, hence our 2 night stay in Kitulgala was cancelled and we decided to remain in the Central Highlands for an additional 2 nights. This issue was totally unavoidable and very disappointing as we were very much looking forward to spending some time in the wet zone, also it meant we would miss out on the opportunity to observe some very interesting mammals and rare endemic birds. However the right decision was taken in the interest of all concerned and the situation was very well managed. Looking back it did not impact on the success of the trip as we had already made the decision that we would revisit the island at some stage in the near future.

During our time in Nuwara Eliya we did quite a lot of birding in both public and botanical gardens and also visited Horton Plains N.P. which whilst not wildlife rich was a fascinating habitat.

Incidentally our hotel in Nuwara Eliya was excellent, the food was outstanding, I recommend it most highly. (Galway Heights Hotel).



KASHMIR FLYCATCHER. Record shot from distance. Victoria Park, Nuwara Eliya.



SRI LANKA SCIMITAR-BABBLER. Endemic. Hakkgala Botanical Gardens. Nuwara Eliya.



HILL ZONE TOQUE MACAQUE. Hakkgala Botanical Gardens.



BROWN SHRIKE. Hakkgala Botanical Gardens.



A very large TARANTULA sp.? Hakkgala Botanical Gardens.



PYGMY LIZARD. Cophotis ceylanica  Endemic. Apparently very rare. Hakkgala Botanical Gardens. Actual size about one third of the image.



SRI LANKA WOODPIGEON. Endemic. Hakkgala Botanical Gardens.


NEXT: Horton Plains N.P. & Udawalawe N.P.


Edited by johnweir
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I’m enjoying this report immensely. Sri Lanka has been on my “list” for some time now, and your efforts here will be a valuable resource for others who would like to visit this intriguing destination. 

So many wonderful sightings thus far; the leopards and fishing cat certainly are particularly special to me. And the pangolin!  (That 9th photo of the pangolin is definitely a wall-hanger!)

Looking forward to more. 

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Horton Plains N.P. Is a 45 minute drive from Nuwara Eliya at an elevation of around 2,200m and is a unique habitat of montane grassland and cloud forest. This was the only area we visited on the trip where we experienced rain, torrential rain and it was cool. On one day the rain was so heavy we saw very little wildlife. Temperatures for the rest of the trip were warm at night with a day time high of around 25ºC, very pleasant. We did a night drive here outside the park at a location where Rusty-spotted Cats have been seen, but we were unlucky. Wildlife generally in and around the park is quite sparse although some quite rare mammals have been reported, including Leopard.



This is the entrance to the park, we did not have a safari type vehicle here, we used the vehicle that took us around the island and our own driver, who by now was making a significant contribution to the success of the trip and was very good himself at spotting unusual mammals and birds. His English was limited but we got along well and I will try to recruit him when we go back.



A basic map of the park.


Toque Macaques (Hill zone) were very common in this area/region. As aggressive as elsewhere.






I always try to get a full tail in primate images, however as we know only too well it is not that easy.



This ssp has a very well developed 'toque' and thicker coat than the other 2 ssp.


Further into the park we tracked a group of Purple-faced Leaf Monkeys, it looked as if it was going to be impossible to get an image, then in a clearing one decided to sit down for a while and in poor light I got some images.



PURPLE-FACED LEAF MONKEY (MONTANE) ssp. monticola. Endemic. This was the 2nd subspecies we had seen so far, the first being philbricki at Wilpattu and Sigiriya, unfortunately the images I took of them are not good enough to publish. Purple-faced Leaf Monkeys are big primates. This ssp. has a significantly thicker and lighter coloured coat than the other ssp. no doubt in part an adaptation to living at a relatively high altitude and appears to be the largest subspecies.



What an expressive face.



The images of this fantastic primate are amongst my favourites from the trip.


As we approached the grasslands we enjoyed a good sighting of a Mongoose.



STRIPE-NECKED MONGOOSE, this was a new Mongoose for us, they are also found in SW India, in the Western Ghats. They are quite big about the size of a European Badger, we observed this one for about 20 minutes as it hunted, it was completely unfazed by our attention. We saw several in the park.






As previously mentioned SAMBAR are not as common as in the parks/reserves in India. However Horton Plains N.P has a very healthy population, including some huge stags this being one of them.


After leaving Nuwara Eliya we headed for Udawalawe N.P. which was another 3 hour drive, driving in Sri Lanka is a very pleasant experience, the roads are not too busy apart from in and around Colombo. We stayed at the Centauria Wild hotel for one night, which once again was very good in all aspects, it was a large modern hotel and we were virtually the only people staying. We visited the park in the early afternoon and did an unproductive night drive in the buffer zone later.



This is the only National Park in Sri Lanka where you are apparently guaranteed Elephants, although we saw lots in several other locations.



This image was taken from our hotel balcony across the park looking towards the Central Highlands.







INDIAN BLACK-NAPED HARE. ssp. singhala. Edemic ssp. This individual demonstrates the accuracy of it's common name very well.









INDIAN BLACK TURTLE possibly ssp. thermalis, therefore different to the one seen at Sigiriya. Both ssp. of this turtle found in Sri Lanka are endemic ssp.


As we rounded a corner in a deep waterhole a single Elephant was observed bathing in the water. On reflection these images are my favourite Elephant images from the trip.






Periscope up.










 Presumably a breeding pair, of ORANGE-BREASTED GREEN PIGEON. Male on the right.






Toque macaque. (Dry zone), note thinner pelage and toque when compared to the Hill zone ssp.



These in my opinion are Feral Water Buffalo.








The following day we left for Yala (Ruhunu) National Park which again was about a 3 hour drive, shortly before we got to the villa where we were staying, which sounds grand but it was very cost effective, we stopped at a large Flying Fox colony outside Tissa.



A general view of the Flying Fox colony just outside Tissa. The image doesn't do the number of Flying Foxes justice, there must have been at least 2 thousand.



An individual Flying Fox, possibly a male.



Another general view, this tree was typical regarding the number of Flying Foxes and there were several trees just as full of them as this one. 



Sheltering under one of the trees our driver noticed this YELLOW BITTERN, which had all on avoiding the constant shower of guano.


Next: Yala National Park.

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Awesome pictures!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Apologise for the delay in continuing.



Prior to Covid many wildlife enthusiasts came away from Yala with very negative experiences particularly regarding acute congestion around key species sightings. When we were arranging this trip I spoke to a UK operator who had decided not to visit Yala and visit Wilpattu instead in their itineraries, they found many aspects of the parks management unsuited to the needs of their clients. We however really enjoyed Yala and had some great sightings, but it is worth noting that we visited shortly after the park had just reopened post covid. Most of the tourists we encountered were locals who only wanted to see Elephant, Leopard and Sloth Bears. Numbers of tourists in the park were generally low and 22 jeeps had been banned for 2 weeks due to speeding in the park prior to our visit. The park itself is beautiful with a variety of interesting habitats and runs alongside the Indian Ocean. The area took a tremendous battering in the 2004 tsunami, with a significant loss of life. Our own guide had been very lucky to survive as he was in the park area when the tsunami struck. Ruhunu encompasses the collective blocks of the park (5 blocks), in the main Yala refers to block 1 the most popular area in the wider National Park (Ruhunu).

The park opens at 07.00 by that time possibly a couple of hundred vehicles had assembled in two lines, as they enter the park it is almost like a Formula 1 race down the long entry road. Sightings of the sought after species are common around this time so guides want to get their clients into the park quickly. We were staying in a private villa about 20 miles from the entrance to Yala block 1 (Palatupana entrance), so our safari driver who lived close to the park, on the days we entered early managed to park his vehicle near the head of the queue and we would arrive just before opening time and transfer vehicles, all very civilised and well managed.

We would certainly go back to Yala although once the country is functioning fully again, I am sure our experiences would be very different. Yala was Leopard Central, the general park area contains the largest population of Leopards in the world we saw at least 11 different Leopards here, several more than once. We spent 2 full days and 2 half days in the park. We visited mainly block 1, which is the Yala area of the park, this area is undoubtedly the best for mammal sightings, this is the really busy part of the park. On the first afternoon we visited Block 4 & 5 (Gaige entrance), we were the only vehicle there and did see a Leopard (#6) cross the track well in front of us, however other wildlife was sparse. Night driving around the perimeter of the park was banned whilst we were there, this was a huge shame as it is usually very good for the smaller Cats. We did two night drives here well away from the park, but saw very little of interest. During our time in Yala when congestion built up around sightings the park staff were usually in attendance quickly and kept things flowing reasonably well, it was quite impressive.

The private villa/ house we stayed in was excellent, we had our own staff including a chef which meant we could avoid some of the large modern hotels in the area. It was also significantly less expensive.


PURPLE SWAMPHEN, taken in some wetlands close to the villa.



CATTLE EGRET, with domestic Water Buffalo again close to the villa.



Leopard #7 (for the trip), taken on the first morning 07.00 following a swift entrance to the park, zone 1. There was a juvenile with this adult female.


Ten minutes later (all images that follow are also zone 1)


Leopard #9, a juvenile male, sheltering in a tree next to our vehicle having been chased up the tree by an adult Indian Wild Boar, following a failed attempt to kill one of it's piglets. This Leopard was within touching distance of our vehicle and was clearly thinking about exiting the tree via our vehicle which would have been very interesting, we moved before it got chance.



There are some very large Mugger Crocodiles in Yala, they build dens on the banks of ponds, rather like West African Crocodiles do in Zakouma N.P. Chad. (aestivation).



A general view of the park looking out towards the Indian Ocean, this area was devastated by the 2004 tsunami, many tourists lost their lives on the beach. We were looking for Sloth Bears in this area.



A trio of SANDPIPERS, GREEN (left), MARSH (middle), WOOD (right), there was also a Common, out of shot. IDs hopefully correct.



RUDDY MONGOOSE. ssp. zeylanicus, Endemic ssp.






Giant Squirrel, same ssp. as seen at Sigiriya.



Female Elephant with her youngster.



Typical inland wetland habitat.



Leopard #10, adult male,  as seen from the track. This was possibly the best Leopard sighting for photographs we had, the light was perfect, 14.00. There were very few vehicles at the sighting. We stayed for about 45 minutes. The Leopard had killed an adult Sambar and had dragged it high into the tree. The Leopard had fed well as judged by the full stomach.



Sleeping off a large meal.



Awake but sleepy.



Not amused at all by the small audience, this is a beautiful Cat in its's prime, condition excellent.



Back to sleep.







Note the stomach.






Not a particularly great image but included as I was told they are generally quite difficult to take images of. BLUE-FACED MALKOHA.



LEOPARD #11, this large male was spotted resting on a large granite boulder as we started to exit the park at the end of our first full day.



Leopard #12 was observed 50 metres further down the track, through some vegetation it was feeding on a small Indian Wild Boar.



Then a 100 metres further on another Leopard was spotted resting #13. As previously mentioned Yala is certainly Leopard Central, the number of Leopard sightings was becoming



As we left the park in the buffer zone a large crowd had gathered in a field, they were watching some activity on a distant rocky outcrop. Using binoculars a pair of Leopards were clearly observed mating, #s 14 & 15 for the trip.


The following day we entered the park after midday having done a night drive the previous evening, just before we left the villa this beautiful lizard was spotted in the garden.







Back in the park in the afternoon, another Leopard was located in a tree overhanging the track, #16 this was to be our last sighting of a new Leopard although we continued to have sightings of individuals I am sure we had seen before.






Not all wildlife presents itself in great condition, this Water Buffalo had clearly seen better days.



Next: Yala National Park Part 2.

Edited by johnweir
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YALA N.P. Part 2.

The second full day in the park was relatively quiet, although we had several reasonable sightings of Leopards we had seen the day before, with the exception of one which I did not count as it was in exactly the same place as one we saw the previous day. However I am reasonably sure it was a new individual. Before it settled it spent a great deal of time scent marking the area. 



Possibly #17 for the trip?

I mentioned in my previous report that the previous day we had seen two Leopards mating as we left the park, this is a record image only ( I include this image now as I have only just found it in my SL file I thought I had erased it), it was taken in bad light from a distance of about 500 metres handheld, it is heavily cropped. It does however record the mating, just about.





 After leaving the Leopard we came across an Elephant we had been warned about, it had charged several vehicles in recent days, we did a U turn and headed inland as I was keen to take some images of another of the islands primates. I was also conscious of the fact that we were still missing a very large mammal from our sightings list. 



GREY (TUFTED) LANGUR, also found in the central region of Southern India. Also seen in Wilpattu in and Sigiriya.



As previously mentioned I like full tail shots.






A large family of INDIAN WILD BOAR (PIG), a favourite prey item for Leopard, common throughout the lowland areas of the island.  Endemic ssp. cristatas, debatable.


In the evening we had a short night drive but due to the ban in the buffer zone, drove to an area well away from the park and saw very little.



TRINKET SNAKE. A beautiful Ratsnake, this one was about 1.5 metres in length. They are harmless and not aggressive. 





Before we left for the coast, we had a final short morning drive in the park, this would be our last chance to find a Sloth Bear, a target species. We had drawn a blank in Wilpattu and also so far in Yala. Then suddenly bingo! within 10 minutes of being in the park our guide spotted movement in some bushes at the side of the track and a Sloth Bear suddenly appeared.



SRI LANKAN SLOTH BEAR. Endemic ssp. inornatus, this is an old male. The subspecies found in Sri Lanka is about 2/3rds of the size of the nominate ssp. found in India, I can confirm this.



Male adult Indian, ssp. ursinus (nominate form), Tadoba N.P. India February 2020. This was a big bear. Very similar to the Sri Lankan Sloth Bear apart from size.






Our guide was sure he was searching for a female he was interested in anything that may indicate a female was in the immediate area. Sri Lankan Sloth Bears also have thinner coats than the nominate form, this male was a bit threadbare. 










Sloth Bears can be aggressive particularly when disturbed unexpectedly or when with their young. Their claws are huge, designed to dig up termites, although they also eat plant and animal matter. Human-Sloth Bear conflict is common in Sri Lanka particularly outside the National Parks, usually ending with a seriously injured person followed by a dead Bear.




We left the Bear as by now about 25 safari vehicles were in attendance, we had enjoyed some time alone with him, he seemed unconcerned by the growing crowd, shortly after we left apparently he decided he had had enough and vanished into the forest.












Looking towards Elephant Rock, in the interior of Yala. What a beautiful park, we really had been so lucky to experience it when it was relatively quiet.



Female MALABAR PIED HORNBILL, possibly preparing herself to be entombed during the process of rearing her chicks, the male was close by, see next image.



Male, MALABAR PIED HORNBILL, breeding partner to the above female. 



EURASIAN SPOONBILL (X3), LITTLE EGRET (left) and possibly a GREAT WHITE EGRET in the background.

This was the last image I took in Yala, we then headed back to the villa for our bags and then towards the south coast for our last few nights.



Just as we were about to leave the villa this WHITE-BREASTED KINGFISHER appeared on the fence.

We both thoroughly enjoyed our time in and around Yala N.P. The only disappointment was not being able to night drive in the park's buffer zone.


Next: The last few days in Sri Lanka still prove to be productive. Conclusions etc.

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Boy, you sure saw just about everything, that's tremendous.  Beautiful series of photos too!  Congrats on such a great trip so far.



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After leaving Yala we headed for the Mirissa on the southern coast for one night and again stayed in a very good hotel on the beach with wonderful food. The purpose was to do a Whale watching excursion the following day, the area is world renowned for providing good Cetacean sightings, in particular Blue Whales. Our trip out proved unsuccessful, with only a very brief sighting of a small pod of Long-snouted Spinner Dolphins. Our guide was very disappointed as he was expecting at least 3 or 4 different Cetacean species, including Blue Whales.



LONG-SNOUTED SPINNER DOLPHINS. That was it, unusually they were only visible for a split second.  Our excursion operator was saying that sightings had been poor in the area in recent weeks following an oil spillage? several months earlier south of Colombo. During the trip we saw lots of small oil slicks, it appeared to me that a tanker may have scrubbed! its' tanks in the bay, not good for wildlife at all. We would however certainly revisit this location if/when we return to the island as our experience is not the norm.


The evening before Mirissa did however produce some unexpected sightings, in of all places the grounds of a guest house, which we had permission to explore.  We had our only sighting here of an INDIAN BROWN MONGOOSE endemic ssp.rubidor WESTERN CEYLON BROWN MONGOOSE. 

We also had a good sighting of the third subspecies of Leaf Monkey which we were very pleased to see. Our guide appeared to know exactly at what time the troop would appear.



SOUTHERN LOWLAND (wet zone) PURPLE-FACED LEAF MONKEY. ssp. vetulus  Endemic species.






The pelage of this subspecies is far less dense than the subspecies found in the Highlands.




Unfortunately photographing the Dry Zone Purple-Faced Leaf Monkey which we had seen in Wilpattu and at Sigiriya proved difficult, but I have recently found the image below which does at least record having seen the subspecies. 



DRY ZONE PURPLE-FACED LEAF MONKEY ssp. philbricki  Endemic species. Taken in Sigiriya, out of sequence in terms of the report.



Before leaving the guest house garden we had a sighting of a LESSER SRI LANKA FLAMEBACK. Endemic.


After the boat trip we drove back to Colombo on a new motorway built with Chinese money, we were virtually the only vehicle on the road, locals can't afford to pay the tolls. A complete waste of money. I was slightly disappointed as the trip drew to an end that we had not seen the fourth subspecies of Purple-faced Leaf Monkey, but just as we approached Colombo we abruptly left the motorway as our guide had spotted some primates in a secondary forest, as we approached them they were indeed the 4th ssp. of Purple-faced Leaf Monkey.



As initially seen from a motorway bridge, primates centre of the image.



WESTERN PURPLE-FACED LEAF MONKEY ssp. nestor Endemic species. This is apparently the hardest subspecies to locate and is the most endangered. Pelage much more brown than the other ssp. This was a very lucky sighting.




We spent a couple of nights in Colombo in a great hotel on the sea front which was exactly what we needed as it gave us time to relax before heading for the UK via Dubai and then on to Newcastle.



View from our room window, promenade improvements in the foreground. Distant left, yet another white elephant, a huge port development which is hardly being used and centre new luxury apartments (not sure who will be able to afford them), both built again with Chinese investment. The long grass area was home to the protestor's camp during the period of civil unrest which followed our visit.



Huge building projects were everywhere, no doubt contributing to the catastrophic financial collapse, shortly after we left.


A couple of images taken in Colombo.






This trip was a huge success, we recorded 63 different mammal species, 68 including the primate subspecies, 58 were new to us. (Some had been observed in India i.e. Sambar, Spotted Deer, during our visit there prior to the epidemic). The 68 included 18 Bat species and 9 small Rodent species. I will post a full list at some stage on mammalwatching.com, we concentrated in the main on mammals but still recorded 223 different Bird species, which included 19 endemics. 18 Reptile species were also observed. All 4 species of Cats found on the island were observed well and all species/ssp of Primates with the exception of the Red Slender Loris (wet zone) were also observed.


We both thoroughly enjoyed our wildlife and travel experience in Sri Lanka and to spend 21 days in the company of one of the world's leading wildlife guides was a privilege and an education.

To get the most out of a trip to the island, the capacity to cope with long night drives for nocturnal species is a must, be warned with the best will in the world they do become demanding.


The island is beautiful, the people exceptionally friendly, the food was great and the hotels and lodges we stayed in were of a very high standard. The trip also represented excellent value for money. Throughout the trip as you would expect we discussed many things with Udi our guide, a general air of dissatisfaction with the way the country was being run was apparent but we had no indication of the events that would take place  just 4 weeks after we returned.


I am still in touch with our guide who presently is working in his words "as a farmer" to support and feed his family. After covid, the civil unrest which developed was the last thing the tour operators in Sri Lanka needed. Last time I spoke to Udi by phone he was of the opinion that trips may be possible by the end of the year. Amazingly some trips do appear to be still running, which is beyond belief, I have no idea how they are getting fuel which is in very short supply.

We will certainly return to the island possibly early 2024, to concentrate on areas in the wet zone, there are still a few mammals to see and several I would like to observe/ photograph again. I would also like to spend more time trying for endemic Birds, Sri Lanka is a birder's paradise. 


For UK travellers as of today (30/8/2022) 'The FCDO advises against all but essential travel to Sri Lanka, due to the impact of the current economic crisis'. That statement has a serious impact on the validity of travel insurance apart from the few policies which do fully cover travel to areas The FCDO advises against. I had a great deal of trouble getting such cover to visit Chad in 2018 and it was expensive.

4th September 2022. The FCDO (UK Government) no longer advises against all but essential travel to Sri Lanka. Great news, travel should hopefully return to normal over the next few months.


However I am sure things will hopefully return to relative normality soon and I hope that this trip report will encourage some to visit or at least to consider a visit to ' The Pearl of the Indian Ocean', with the right guide you will enjoy a wonderful wildlife experience.


Special thanks go to our fantastic guide and friend Uditha Hettige, Bird and Wildlife Team (SL) for their hard work on the itinerary and ensuring it ran smoothly throughout and Reef and Rainforest Tours (UK) Ltd who despite a 12 month covid delay delivered an itinerary exactly to our requirements and on the original budget.


Some Recommended Reading

There are quite a few mammal and bird guide books available, for mammals A Naturalist's Guide to the Mammals of Sri Lanka. Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne 2020 is OK, I prefer his earlier Pocket Photo Guide 2016. The books below are very interesting.



1.  A fantastic book on all the islands' primates, lots of good images of all species and subspecies. Out of print so difficult to get hold of Abe Books occasionally have copies, mine came from a book dealer in Colombo pre-trip.

2. New book 2022, interesting if Sloth Bears fascinate you. Expensive £38.95 NHBS. Based on a recent research programme, but easy to read and good images.

3. Our guide is co-author of this book which is the best available, I recommend highly. I wish we had had it whilst on the trip. £12.95, great value for money. NHBS. Published after we got home. 2022. A photographic guide.


BEST SIGHTING, before the visit I would have said it was going to be one of the Cats, but we weren't expecting this.




Where next, hopefully, November, Estonia to try for an Eurasian Lynx sighting and then February 2023 a five week trip to India. Thank you for following this trip report.

Edited by johnweir
FCDO update.
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Excellent report @johnweir.   I enjoyed all the photos and details you put into it.


I sure hope the economic issues get resolved as quickly as possible for not only the tourists but especially for the guides and everyone else there that relies on tourism.  It sure looks like a great country to visit for wildlife and it's high on our list.



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that was one heck of a trip and a very productive one too. your timing was impeccable but with the IMF agreement today, hopefully the economy will right itself, but, sadly, not without more sacrifices from the citizens. 


thanks for sharing!


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Wow! What a trip, John! I really do admire your stamina - I was exhausted just reading about the hours you kept! :lol:

Such brilliant photos. I loved the wrestling monitors, as you say, very Jurassic Park! I particularly liked the shot showing the long, and potentially vicious, claws of the Sloth bear. 

You were lucky with Yala. It's beautiful and sightings are good but, during my visit (Dec, 2015), the driving behaviour was beyond shocking. I saw a bull elephant being harassed and then an actual car crash where a tourist was injured. However, it was the only time I've ever seen a pangolin. It was on Xmas Eve and it was in the hotel grounds, hunting insects in a dark, quiet area. Best Xmas pressie I've ever had! Also saw Sloth bear in the grounds! 

You were very unlucky with Mirissa and the oil pollution. It's definitely worth another visit.

I love Sri Lanka too, the people, the food, the scenery are terrific - and the birds ain't bad! I'm in touch with a guide there and he and his family are having a tough time. I hope it will improve and become possible to visit again soon.  And look forward to your next TR!

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Just catching up. Thank you for an excellent report. You and your guide worked hard but were well rewarded 

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What a trip, and what a great trip report. Still can´t get over the magnificence of that Pangolin sighting, what an incredible highlight. Yala looks really beautiful, your report really makes me recondsider my opinion of it. My line of thinking was Sri Lanka certainly not an option but definitely would not do Yala. You certainly changed that. Thanks John, throroughly enjoyed this!

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  • 1 month later...

For those who followed this trip report regularly I would draw to your attention my full mammal species list which has just been published on mammalwatching.com, if you do a search for SrI Lanka it can be found dated 22 October 2022 titled SrI Lanka 2022. It could prove useful to those planning a trip to the island in the future.

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