Tracking cats

Friday, 15 October 2010 21:05 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

National Geographic captures Sri Lankan leopards from Yala Village

The star attraction of the Yala National Park was recently the subject of interest for National Geographic. A group of cameramen from the National Geographic Channel flew down to Sri Lanka at the height of the drought to capture unseen footage of leopard behaviour at night. The project began mid July with the support of Yala Village, and the Nature Odyssey teams.

Special permission was sought from the wildlife authorities to commence shooting within the Yala National Park. The crew was equipped with the world’s most light sensitive cameras, jeeps were modified to ensure that the wildlife is not disturbed in their natural habitat; and the team of naturalists were handpicked for the occasion.

The shooting of the cats commenced in the cover of darkness, with the aid of infra- red vision. The jeeps were manoeuvred in total darkness and the engines halted when leopards were sighted. 47 adventurous days of filming commenced with its share of adrenaline rushes and thrills. The HD cameras used by the crew captured high quality day time footage and the leopard behaviour at night was captured with the use of the world’s most advanced starlight filming technology.

The crew captured footage of some fascinating leopard behaviour, including hunting, mating and paternal family life. Three 8-week old leopard cubs were spotted in Rukwila by the crew at the end of the shooting which proved to be an ideal finale for the filming in Yala. The British crew filming for Nat Geo Wild was most grateful to the Nature Odyssey team, Yala Village and John Keells Hotels Group for supporting the production.

The Head of Eco Tourism at John Keells Hotels Chitral Jayatilake commented on the project stating that, “It’s been a dream to observe and study these cats at night and see how they behave after dark, this project completed for Nat Geo Wild gave us the technological means of observing Yala’s top predator at night without the use of any artificial light. The behaviour seen and recorded will change our understanding of the marvellous cats and hopefully, attract many more Wildlife tourists to Sri Lanka in the future”