This week was a quiet one. The proposed, concerted effort to launch a series of field investigations in the area where we had received several reports of sightings of a tusker who fitted Raja’s description, did not materialize. Firstly Dr Vijitha Perera, Wildlife Veterinarian, Department of Wildlife Conservation, who was to give us some guidance was called to Colombo for some urgent meetings and then dispatched to Giritale for a few days. So he was not present in UWNP the whole of last week. Secondly very heavy rains hampered travelling around, even within the park itself. So we postponed our activities for next week.
As indicated last week, we believe the main focus of our search should now be in the North-eastern side, just outside the park boundary, where there are many reports of elephant sightings, as well as a mature tusker with a short tusk. This includes the village hamlets of Gomagala and Rathabalagama in the Hambegamuwa area.
In the meantime we continue to sight Sumedha, the ‘No 2 ‘ tusker of the park, within the park. It has been recorded that Sumedha also comes into the park when he comes into musth, which seems to be slightly later than Raja’s cycle. While there have been many occasions before, where both of them have been sighted in the park together, the ‘pecking order’ is very obvious to see. Sumedha takes flight whenever Raja arrives on the scene, and is always submissive in Raja’s presence, although he is a mature tusker himself in prime condition, albeit a few years Raja’s junior. So this year it seems rather curious to see Sumeda, now clearly in post musth, still around in the park. ( Read extracts of Dr Vijitha Perera’s forthcoming book entitled ’10 years with Wild Elephants’ where he devotes a full chapter on Raja at our blog)
Could it be that he senses the absence of Raja, and now feels more confident that he is the newly crowned King of UWNP? All details of work done so far, with reports, video clips, pictures and maps could be found on our blog http://findraja.srilankaelephant.com/blog/