Wilpattu National Park is a wildlife refuge that was closed for a number of years. Shyana stayed in the park bungalow when she was small, we signed up for a half day safari tour. It got off to a bumpy start even before bumping down the park tracks. The jeep driver was changed, there was no tracker, the driver looked only a little older than Christopher. Apparently they had sent an email, but we'd not been able to read it.
We headed into the park and saw peacocks, spotted deer, kingfisher, eagle and a rare sambur (large deer) with a baby. Bumping along the rough read dirt road we saw a small crocodile, land monitor lizards (up to 4 feet and the look prehistoric), pelicans, stork and painted stork. We saw signs of elephants, but no sightings. As we headed to another villus (looks like a lake but is just a depression filled with rain water, they recede during the dry season), we saw a throng of jeeps which signified we'd found what we were looking for. A leopard had come down to drink and was we approached he headed toward the cover of the jungle, but stopped and lay down on the sand. It napped and rolled around, at times sticking it legs in the air. It was fabulous to be able to see such a beautiful creature in the Wild. Today's picture doesn't do it justice, look really hard at the center of the picture, on the edge of the sand is the leopard. This photo was from my phone, will up load one from the camera and you will see it very clearly. [updated with photo from the Fuji X10]
We sat for an hour camly watching the leopard snooze and fool around, it was very relaxing. The driver pretty much begged us to leave, so we could get out of the park before dark, it was a faster bumpier hour and a half ride out, but we managed to spot wild boar, a jackal, night doves and monkeys meant the driver redeemed himself. Leopard are pretty rare but sightings in Wilpattu are up recently because it has been so dry.
We stayed in a little lodge on the edge of the park, we could hear peacocks in the area and saw some more of the birds.