Young, Wild & Free – Conservation of a Elephants outside their natural habitat
“Ath Athuru Sewana” also known as the Elephant Transit home is a refuge for baby elephants. Founded in 1995 is the only rehabilitation that sets them free to the wild when their ready to embrace life again with no fear and obstacles. The SoulTrek team decided to pay a visit to share some love with these endangered species, so we decided to hit the roads for another eventful journey.
This trip was definitely a knowledge seeking experience as we wanted the spread awareness about how precious these enormous creatures are and how we should protect them. This place was located on the main lakeside road, about 5km west of the Udawalawa national park entrance and as we entered the premises we realized that we weren’t allowed to pet them nor feed them for any good reason. Though it was pretty tempting to interact with those baby elephants we had to watch them from a distant viewing point made us a little bit upset.
We were told that these tiny calves were brought for treatments from various different places around the country. Some of them were critically injured and some were orphans due to their parents been shot to death. Yes! It sounds devastating and that is the very reason that these joyful creatures are brought to this rehabilitation centre to be taken care with much love and affection. The officers explained us the reason as to why we should maintain minimum contact with them, which educated us that precautions are made mindfully to avoid consequences that can take place once their released to the wild.
Caretakers at “Ath Athuru Sewana” are well trained staff and seeing information boards hanging around trees for us to enlighten ourselves about elephants and their ancestors was pretty impressive. We did come across a time table of their feeding times, they were fed every three hours of the following times 12 midnight, 3.00 am, 6.00 am, 9.00 am again it repeats the same during the day time as well. Watching these enormous cuddle buddy’s drinking milk through a straw with the help of the caretakers was indeed a precious moment to cherish. Once they fill up the tummy’s their allowed to freely roam in a secluded part of the Udawalawa national park to have some fun and search for more food. They were also protected with a radio collar around their neck to check their whereabouts.
One of the most interesting bustle that we observed was these baby elephants often remove grass out of the soil and kept on applying mud on them. With great curiosity we questioned one of the caretakers the reason for it, with a delightful smile he answered “it is their home remedy used as an insect repellent”
Elephants are social animals, their carefully monitored before releasing them back to the wild. “Ath Athuru sewana” is a must visit as it gives you a reality check on how intense the human – elephant conflict has become. Our human behaviour resulted destroying their homes and calves losing their moms. Ultimately, it is the humans who helps them out to prepare for a better future. This elephant transit home is definitely is the definition of the famous saying “good always triumphs over evil”.
Later in the evening we proceeded to Udawalawa for another exciting jeep safari. The National park is surrounded by open plains and foothills, especially famous for herds of elephants living there. Awakening our curiosity the guide said that we were about to experience a 4WD (four wheel drive) open jeep safari which will be an unforgettable thrilling experience to treasure for life. As we were passing through we were able spot out deer’s, wild boars, water buffaloes, Leopards, different species of birds and many more. We were lucky enough to capture some striking snap shots of their unique moments and will be adding them up on our SoulTrek photography collection. As the day lights faded it was time for us to conclude our journey, thanking the tour guide we drove back to our accommodation for the night, planning to set another exciting trip to one of the remarkable destinations in Sri Lanka.