On 22nd March another four juvenile elephants, rescued as infants separated from their mothers and rehabilitated at the Elephant Transit Home (ETH), were released to the wild in southern Sri Lanka. This was the first release not to take place in the Udawalawa National Park (UNP), with the animals instead returned to the nearby Lunugamwehera National Park (LNP).
Rani (Female, 6 years 5 months) - pictured, Ollie (Male, 5 years 1 month), Toledo (Male, 5 years 1 month), and Zicasso (Male, 5 years) made up this 9th Batch since releasing started in 1998. Zicasso was identified by the staff as the dominating male of the released juveniles.
All four were successfully transported and released, although Rani briefly came back to the release site later where some ETH staff and visitors were still present. The males bunched up at releasing and subsequent monitoring reported that they were exploring the new habitat as a close group. LNP is situated about 40km south-east of Udawalawa in the dry zone of Sri Lanka and acts as a corridor between the national parks of Udawalawa and Yala. The vegetation is a mosaic of scrublands and grasslands, and the reservoir inside is supposed to provide year round accessibility of water to the wild animals of the park.