Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home


This is a site where abandoned and stranded babies elephants are looked after till they are eventually fit enough to be discharged back to the natural. This elephant transit home is located on 200 acres bound to Udawalawa National Park. It is crucial in the whole field of wildlife globally, as it is the leading and the only elephant transit home of this type established to maintain world elephant affluence.
Department of Wildlife Conservation announced this place and was set up on 6th October 1995 as the Department of Wildlife Conservation pilot plan under the numerous effort of Dr Nandana Athapaththu, the former deputy director of the Department.

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The Origins of Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home

1.1 The Vision of the Ministry of Wildlife Conservation

The Ministry of Wildlife Conservation recognized the urgent need to safeguard orphaned elephants and embarked on a pioneering initiative. As a result, the Ath Athuru Sevana, or Elephant Transit Home, was established within the boundaries of Udawalawe National Park. This marked a significant milestone in the conservation of these gentle giants.

1.2 Initial Skepticism and Overcoming Challenges

While the general public embraced the project wholeheartedly, many conservationists initially doubted its feasibility. However, the team's perseverance behind ETH and commitment to the cause gradually dispelled these doubts. Today, the Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home is a testament to the successful rehabilitation and release of numerous orphaned elephants.

2. Location of Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home

The ETH is situated on the western border of the expansive Udawalawe National Park. Nestled adjacent to the picturesque Udawalawe Reservoir, this tranquil setting offers an ideal habitat for baby elephants. The elephants within the transit home roam freely, while wild elephants from the surrounding areas often pay visits. The ever-changing water levels of the reservoir contribute to the diverse ecosystem, ensuring a harmonious coexistence between the orphaned and wild elephants.

3. The First Resident: Komali

3.1 A Heartwarming Tale of Compassion

The heartwarming story of the first resident at Ath Athuru Sevana, affectionately named Komali, captures the essence of the sanctuary's mission. Komali, a one-year-old female elephant, was discovered wandering alone in the Meegalawa forest of the Anuradhapura district. Dr Nandana Atapattu, a dedicated conservationist, brought her to ETH, where she found solace and care. Since Komali's arrival, over 200 elephants have found refuge within the transit home.

3.2 The Journey to Independence

Under the attentive care of the dedicated staff at ETH, orphaned elephants are nurtured and prepared for their eventual release into the wild. As they grow and develop, the elephants undergo a transformative journey, learning essential skills for survival. When they reach the age of five, they are reintroduced into their natural habitats, ready to embark on an independent life while continuing to receive occasional monitoring and support.

4. Nurturing Orphaned Elephants: Feeding and Care

4.1 The Importance of Milk Feeding

Caring for the orphaned calves at the Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home is a round-the-clock endeavour. Feeding them milk every three hours is crucial to their care routine. Delayed feeding times can result in anxious cries and elephants eagerly seeking nourishment, highlighting the significance of a well-structured feeding schedule.

4.2 Challenges and Unique Dietary Requirements

Adapting orphaned elephant calves to powdered milk and a new environment requires immense patience and care. While human baby milk formulas are initially used, the calves may experience digestive problems or milk intolerance. To address these challenges, alternative preparations such as soy milk, rice broth, or rehydration solutions are provided to restore the elephants' well-being.

4.3 Health Management and Medical Challenges

Ensuring the health and welfare of the elephant calves poses a continuous challenge for ETH officials. Illnesses are common, and post-disease treatment can be lengthy due to the elephants' slow recovery rate. Separating sick elephants with contagious diseases from healthier ones requires meticulous attention. Despite limited support from laboratories and the scarcity of medical knowledge and experience, the dedicated team at ETH perseveres in their mission.

4.4 Public Viewing of Feeding Times

Visitors can witness the feeding sessions at Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home. The feeding times are scheduled at 10:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m., and 6 p.m. daily, offering a captivating experience to observe the adorable baby elephants as they eagerly enjoy their nourishment.

5. Admission Tickets to Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home

For those eager to visit the Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home, entrance tickets can be purchased directly at the ETH ticket counter. There is no requirement for early reservation, ensuring flexibility for visitors. The ticket prices are as follows:

  • Foreigners:
    • Adult - $5 for one person
    • Child - $3 for one child (below 12 years old)
  • Locals:
    • Adult - 100 LKR
    • Child - 50 LKR

The Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home is a beacon of hope and a sanctuary for orphaned baby elephants. Through its tireless efforts, the ETH has successfully reintegrated numerous elephants into their natural habitats, enabling them to lead fulfilling lives in the wild. By visiting this remarkable facility, you can witness firsthand the extraordinary journey of these majestic creatures and contribute to their conservation. Embrace the magic of the Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home and be captivated by the resilience and beauty of the elephants it nurtures.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can visitors interact with the baby elephants at Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home?

Direct interaction with the baby elephants is not permitted to ensure their well-being and minimize human interference. However, visitors can observe the feeding sessions and witness the adorable antics of the baby elephants from a safe distance.

2. Are there any volunteering opportunities at the Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home?

Yes, the Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home offers volunteering programs for individuals passionate about elephant conservation. These programs allow participants to contribute directly to the care and rehabilitation of orphaned elephants.

3. Can an orphaned elephant be adopted from the transit home?

The adoption of orphaned elephants from the Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home is unavailable. However, your visit and support contribute significantly to the well-being and future of these incredible animals.

4. What other attractions are there near Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home?

Udawalawe National Park is a must-visit destination with its abundant wildlife and scenic beauty. Embark on a thrilling safari adventure to witness diverse nature, including elephants, leopards, and various bird species.

5. How can I support the conservation efforts of the Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home?

Apart from visiting the transit home, you can support their conservation initiatives by spreading awareness, donating, or participating in fundraising events organized by recognized conservation organizations. Your contribution helps safeguard the future of these gentle giants.



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