Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Herd - Yala, Sri Lanka

A herd of Elephants huddling around two calves
Huddling around the calves

One of the highlights of my trip to Yala was the encounter we had with a herd of 8-10 Elephants. We had already been on a couple of rounds inside the park and were yet to see a herd of Elephants when we came across them. It was about 6.15 AM and we had just entered the park and were driving along the main road when we saw the Elephants feeding. I think we had actually driven past them before we realised!

More photographs after the jump.
A small Elephant calf
 Smallest member of the herd

There were two calves in the herd and the adults seemed to be quite protective of them. As soon as we pulled up alongside them the adults gathered around the two calves. They also kicked up a bit of dust which was presumably a warning (first photograph).

The sub-adults of the Elephant herd
Sub-adults of the herd

The Elephants did eventually come a lot closer to the vehicle to feed on the shrubs by the road but didn't stay too long. Again they were watchful of the calves but I did manage to get a few shots of the young ones.

An Elephant approaches the vehicle
The Approach

The matriarch was massive but we didn't get a good look at her as she didn't venture out towards the road. She can be seen in the background of the third photograph. I was hoping they would cross the road so that we would be able to get a look at the whole herd but that didn't happen. The sighting lasted about fifteen minutes before the elephants decided to head off. By this time there were a couple of other jeeps as well and we moved on.

An Elephant calf heads off
One of the Calves heading off

Surprisingly (to me anyway) this was the only herd of Elephant we saw on our 5 rounds in the park. I'm not sure whether this was because the park was dry and the elephants had moved on to better feeding grounds or if the Elephant population in the area has decreased.

An Elephant has a dust bath
A dust bath

All the photographs on this post were taken with a Canon 7D and the 100-400mm lens. The Elephants were in such close proximity of the vehicle that the 100mm focal length was too long.
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