Kele Group wildlife tour to Maradanmaduwa, Wilpattu N.P.
Everybody welcomed Saroja [wife of Lucky] , Shrinath [friend of Sarath] and Chamara [son of Ranasinghe] on the tour as new entrants.
It was Gerry’s first tour to a National Park since his bypass heart operation in March 2016, coincided with his seventy second  birthday which he celebrated in the Wilpattu Jungle with his sincere friends. We; Kele Group wishes him best of health and long life.
Uninvited guest at the party
There was an unusual guest of honor at the B’day party. An Indian Crested Porcupine [Binomial name or scientific name or Latin name is Hystrix indica] or Panduru Ittawa in Sinhala.
[there is a very interesting photograph of the b’day boy with the guest of honor]
The Indian crested porcupine is a large rodent, weighing 11–18 kg. Their body (from the nose to the base of the tail) measures between 70–90 cm, with the tail adding an additional 8–10 cm. The lifespan of wild Indian crested porcupines is unknown, but the oldest known captive individual was a female that lived to be 27.1 years old.
It is covered in multiple layers of modified hair called quills, with longer, thinner quills covering a layer of shorter, thicker ones. The quills are brown or black with alternating white and black bands. They are made of keratin and are relatively flexible. Each quill is connected to a muscle at its base, allowing the porcupine to raise its quills when it feels threatened. The longest quills are located on the neck and shoulder, where the quills form a “skirt” around the animal. These quills can grow up to 51 cm (20 in) long, with most measuring between 15–30 cm. Smaller (20 cm) and more rigid quills are packed densely on the back and rump. These smaller quills are used to stab at potential threats. The base of the tail contains shorter quills that appear white in color, with longer, hollow quills that the porcupine can rattle to produce a warning sound when threatened. Contrary to popular belief, Indian crested porcupines (like all porcupines) cannot shoot their quills.
Further readings on porcupines
It was agreed not to feed him that night and if he get used to which they always vulnerable to artificial food and he did not visit us on last two days.
Tracker Sanath and driver Ajith tried very hard to track leopards by following their footprints several times during our rounds but had to ‘bite the dust’ without success. Another wildlife photographer Namal Kamalgoda informed that he too could not find a leopard during that weekend. He was in the park with Filipino visitors.
There are two possible theories.
One, it was couple of days before Vesak and ample moonlight was available. Leopard could hunt in the night and there was no immediate necessity to hunt in the day time where it could rest.
Two, due to excessive heat during day time it could rest and lie inside jungle where environment is cooler only to come out for water if needed.
But contrary to above theories, a leopard has emerged at Maradanmaduwa area closer to our bungalow and several day visitors had seen him but not us. Unfortunately luck is a part and a parcel of this game. We always have to bear in mind that a sight of a leopard or a bear is a bonus during nature excursions.
Some guys have all the luck – Rod Stewart
First day – 4th May, 2017
Nevertheless we were lucky enough to saw bear on first day and it was on a ‘Muna-mal’ tree eating fruits. It was on other side of the tree and hard to see very clearly. Ajith’s pick-up went to hunt leopards and never saw the bear again. But Sanath’s pick-up stayed and was rewarded with rare sight of the bear getting down from tree and drinking water from water hole nearby.
Then another bear came near our bungalow on the first day around 11.pm. Ranjan, Horatius, Shrinath and Priyantha were awaken by the tracker and went down to see him. The bear came down from a tree close-by and had a look at all then vanished in to darkness. It was a thrilling experience.
The Sri Lankan sloth bear (Melursus ursinus inornatus) is a subspecies of the sloth bear found mainly in lowland dry forests in the island of Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan sloth bear is omnivorous. It feeds on nuts, berries, and roots, as well as carrion and meat. One of its main staples is insects, which it removes from rotting stumps and trees with its long, hairless snout. It rarely kills animals. Yala National Park and Wilpattu are famous places to sight these mammals in Sri Lanka. – Wikipedia
Some of other animals we saw on the same day.
Second day – 5th May, 2017
Kudiramalei point / Thambapanni
Sea side picturesquesite
Prince Vijaya came to Sri Lanka as a sailor and landed here. Kudiramalei point situated inside WNP on north western side, about 35km away from Maradanmaduwa bungalow. One can reach this point passing through Kalivillu and crossing old Puttalam – Mannar road and toward sea. Normally we organize an excursion with new entrants to this important site. Unfortunately we could not make it this time due to prevailing heat-wave and high humid situation. One has to walk a quite distance in hot sun to reach ruins. Vast number of small stupa like earth mounds remains at the site. A place believed to be Princess Kuweni’s palace could be seen near Kalivillu on the way.
Third & fourth days – 6th & 7th May, 2017
…… and the special thanks go to ………..
Food prepared by Niroshan and ably assisted by Vijitha was very tasty. Both of them were very obliging and helpful.
Though we had a bad omen; breakdown of our first bus at the beginning of the journey, all other things went according to precision planning by Salinda R. and Assistant Directress Malkanthi R.
It was a new experience to travel in a single bus compared to go in several cars. There was much fun during travel time. Some of the members had a ‘fellowship drink’ on the way back to Colombo which was unthinkable if we drove ourselves. Udaya’s driving was very safe and he never took unnecessary risks such as dangerous overtaking etc. Compliments should be given to Ranjan S. for organizing the bus.
Many thanks go to Nimal F. and Renuka W. for tasty sandwiches and Malkanthi R. for preparing pasta dish for B’day dinner on the first day
According to a proposal made by Ranjan S. and endorsed by almost all members, in Wasgamuwa N.P. in February 2016, it was decided to exempt Salinda’s share of expenses on wildlife tours. Though Salinda R. did not like the idea, it was decided in recognition of his ability and dedication in organizing wildlife tours. Extra Rs. 617.00 was added to each member for this purpose.
“Please help to preserve nature till we; Kele Group meet at next wildlife tour. Many thanks for your participation.”
Text by Salinda R.
Pix by Priyantha d A.
“We who are gathered here may represent a particularly elite, not of money and power, but of concern for the earth for the earth’s sake.”
– Ansel Adams