Human-Elephant conflict in Sri Lanka is serious. Of the estimated 4000 wild elephants in the country, up to 200 die each year from gunshot injuries. Baby elephants are orphaned and many adult elephants are left maimed and suffering.
Located at the south-western corner of the Uda Walawe Reservoir, the Eth Athuru Sevana (ETH) was established in 1995 by the Department of Wildlife as a part of the Uda Walawe National Park, with the objective of rehabilitating orphaned elephants – raising them in a semi wild condition and taking them back to the wild, fitted with radio collars equipped with location and mortality sensors. At present the home cares for over thirty such baby elephants.
We arrived at the Transit Home at noon to watch the midday feeding of the baby elephants. The proceedings are watched from a covered and elevated semi-lunar viewing platform. A deep moat stands between the viewing platform and the elephant feeding area. The orphans appear to be well mannered and disciplined unlike most of the country’s motorists. They patiently wait in a queue and approach the feeding shed one by one to receive two litres of milk via a hose. They then walk to the edge of the moat and feed on Jack leaves.
The elephants are fed five times a day at three hourly intervals starting at 6 am. The Department of Wildlife spends Rs.10,000 a month to feed one elephant.
The video clip shows how a baby elephant is fed.
Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home is a delightful place to visit and is miles ahead of the circus that is Pinnwala Elephant Orphanage near Kandy. My only criticism is the exorbitantly high entrance fee foreign tourists have to pay compared to local visitors.