Elephants are, and will remain among, some of the most splendid and regal of animals on earth. They have been venerated and worshipped in Asian and African countries for centuries and looked upon with wonder by Europeans.
However, in Sri Lanka, there have been many casualties resulting from human – elephant conflict, in both national parks and in villages. Many cases have been reported where safari drivers deliberately incite elephants to cause excitement for their clients, and elephants destroying villages in fury.
To combat this issue, Jetwing and the Born Free Foundation have teamed up with the Department of Wildlife Conservation to present a unique programme to be held at Jetwing Vil Uyana on 9 October, from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The programme is said to begin with presentations on the elephants currently inhabiting the Minneriya National Park, and how an ele-friendly safari should be conducted. After a delicious lunch, participants will be taken on a safari in Minneriya to witness the Gathering of Elephants, using the same principles put forward at the presentations.
All the sessions will be conducted by qualified personnel, from the Born Free Foundation, the University of Colombo, the Department of Wildlife Conservation, and independent researchers.
“As part of our Responsible Tourism Initiative, our aim is to educate, and eradicate human-elephant conflict, as well as its causes and consequences; this is the first step towards that. The whole programme has been designed as an experience, one that will amaze and astound you,” said Angie Samuel, Marketing Communications Manager of Jetwing Hotels.
The Gathering of Elephants at Minneriya has been described as “Woodstock for elephants,” “one of the most unforgettable and fantastic events in the international wildlife calendar,” and just plainly “unbelievable”.
Seeing over 300 elephants, consisting of calves and adults, converge on the banks of the Minneriya tank has to be witnessed to be believed. The forest itself is a den of silent activity, and if you strain your eyes and are a bit lucky, you may see these majestic beasts making their way through the dense forest.
Once at the main shores of the tank, prepare yourself for the sight of families of elephants, led by the matriarch of the clan, with calves playing amongst each other and rolling in the mud. Flocks of birds’ dot the sky, completing a picture of scenic tranquillity and peace. What must always be remembered is that it is our responsibility to maintain such habitats in the right way, especially for the generations to come.
Jetwing Vil Uyana is a hotel with a difference: It is also a private nature reserve which plays host to over 70 species of birds, 30 species of butterflies and 25 species of dragonfly, as well as its very own marsh crocodile who inhabits the hotel itself!
The rooms have been placed amidst paddy fields, providing the unique possibility of farming and harvesting on your own. Being a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, Jetwing Vil Uyana prides itself on being the place where you get back to nature, and where anyone can ‘find themselves’, as well as being quite possibly the first hotel in the world to be constructed over a manmade wetland.
Bring along your family and friends, for an once in a lifetime opportunity to learn about proper human and elephant interaction, topped off by a firsthand view at what is one of Sri Lanka’s most awe-inspiring wildlife events.
Children are most welcome, and this is guaranteed to be an unforgettable experience for them as well. Only a limited number of places are available, so please register before 6 October to avoid disappointment! Call or email Prasanna on 011 2345700 ext 311 and [email protected] for package details.