Elephant Transit Home

Top choice in Uda Walawe National Park

TO GO WITH SriLanka-environment-conservation-elephant by Mel Gunasekera .This picture taken on March 22, 2010, shows orphan baby elephant Rani, walking through shrub at a state-run Elephant Transit Home in Udawalawe, some 120 kms south east of Colombo. Home to some 10 percent of the Asian elephant population, Sri Lanka is errecting electrical fences around villages, to live in harmony with wild elephants, that are fast dwindling due to the human elephant conflict. AFP PHOTO/Ishara S.KODIKARA (Photo credit should read Ishara KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)

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Supported by the Born Free Foundation (www.bornfree.org.uk), this complex is a halfway house for orphaned elephants. After rehabilitation, the elephants are released back into the wild, many into the Uda Walawe National Park. Although you can’t get up close and personal with the elephants, seeing them at feeding time (from a viewing platform) is still a lot of fun. It's on the main lakeside road, about 5km west of the Uda Walawe National Park entrance.

Elephants here are not normally chained at night (unlike at other elephant 'orphanages') in Sri Lanka. Over 100 elephants have been rehabilitated at the Elephant Transit Home and subsequently released into the wild. Around 40 or so juvenile pachyderms are usually here at any one time. Most tour operators include a visit to the Elephant Transit Home in their trips. There are also decent information displays where you can learn all about elephants and their ancestors. Try to avoid weekends and holidays, when dozens of people are packed together on the viewing platform.