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November 24, 2003

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Elephants hold a sacred spot in Sri Lankan legend, art, and heritage. In ancient times all elephants were property of the King. They stamped the ground for roads and building construction. Elephant sculptures adorn many religious monuments. In Sri Lanka today all elephants are protected by law and 2500 remain in the wild. However, habitat destruction dwindles their numbers. It takes 5 sq km to feed and provide for a wild elephant. The land currently set aside for wildlife is enough for 1600 elephants and so overcrowding has become a major problem. Farmers struggle to defend crops and occasionally kill (and are killed by) elephants.
Near Sri Lanka's geographical center elephants live at an orphanage. Tourists can visit the orphanage and watch elephants play, bathe, and feed.
The little ones are curious about visitors.
Elephant parade. We were almost run over when these guys stampeded because an overly imaginative elephant trumpeted alarm and set off a false panic.