|The climate is 'eastern dry zone' and some years or seasons are semi-arid due to the scarcity of rain. The weather could vary considerably from year to year. The rainy season is the northeast monsoon from October to December/January. Mean annual rainfall is about 1300mm, and the annual mean temperature is 27 degrees. After the rainy season our area is lush and green till about the month of May.
|The lodge area share flora and fauna with the 1300 km2 Yala National Park, the protected area which covers the south eastern 'corner' of Sri Lanka. The landscape from the lodge to the border of Yala National Park (8 km from the lodge) is a variety of abandoned chena fields ('slash and burn'), irrigation tanks and forests. The forest around Tree Tops Jungle Lodge consist of primary tall canopy tropical evergreen forest as well as centuries old secondary forests and thorny scrub jungle. |
The dense tall dry zone forest has many flowering trees and rare tropical trees such as the protected ebony tree. The jungle around us has many plants of great medicinal value, for example neeramulliya (Hygrophilla spinosa), polpala (Aerva lantana), nilaveriya (Indigofera tinctoria), vishnukranthi (Evolvulus alsinoides) and many more; all used by natives who know the art of traditional ayurvedic plant medicine.
The Yala National Park is an agglomeration of blocks and protected areas and consists of a variety of different ecosystems, essential for the diverse wildlife that inhabits this jungle. This vast area of wild nature stretches from Tree Tops Jungle Lodge to the south coast, 80 km away, and to the east coast, 60 km away.
|The area where Tree Tops Jungle Lodge is situated, is bordering and part of the wider ecosystem including Yala and other national parks and wilderness areas in large areas of south and south eastern Sri Lanka. Yala National Park and bordering jungle areas outside the park itself probably host more than 500 elephants, making this area of Sri Lanka a most important elephant habitat with a density about one elephant per 2.5 km2. The numbers of elephant in various regions are not known exactly.From the beginning of the month of May our area receives rare and short rainfalls and the landscape gradually transforms, getting dry and dusty.|
The drought culminates in August-September. Days are baking hot, all grass is yellow and dead and elephants have a hard time, very busy finding enough food. This is also the main season of elephant activity around Tree Tops Jungle Lodge, there is hardly a week without sightings from the lodge. Some elephants are seen every day for a period; late afternoon, in the night, or early morning when the sun rise.
Many elephants are attracted to the waterholes nearby. We often get great elephant experiences during the dry season and a highlight worth mentioning is the special experience on full moon nights. If we have the luck - in June, July, August, and September it is an extraordinary experience of nature to observe herds of elephants at night from the lodge, sometimes feeding silently from the dry shrub very close to us.
|Apart from wild elephants, generally the wildlife includes Sambur, Chital Deer, Marsh Crocodile, Porcupine, Giant squirrel, Wild Boar, and many more. Sloth Bear and Leopard live in the hills nearby but hardly ever seen. We do see their foot prints and pawmarks and it happens we hear their sound.
Our wilderness area unfortunately is not well protected. In spite of the many species of wildlife represented, observing wild animals is difficult because they are very careful when they are close the human beings. Also their numbers are kept down by poor villagers hunting as a mean of survival. Villagers eat virtually any animal or bird, or sell it on the black market as 'wild meat' or to local restaurants for a few dollars.