Since its establishment in 1995 by the Sri Lanka Department of Wildlife Conservation, The Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home has been successfully rehabilitating orphaned elephant calves so that they can be released back to the wild where they belong.
A visit here is best combined with a visit to the Udawalawe national park as it is only a half hour drive from the park entrance. The park itself is located about 167 Km from Colombo. The highlight of visiting the transit home is to see the orphans being fed. The feeding times are spaced between three hour intervals from 9 am to 6 pm.
A bath in elephant dung
When orphans are at the center, contact with humans is minimal. This is so that the elephants will not acclimate to humans. Calves are looked after until they are about five years old and they are subsequently released into the wild. An interesting thing to note is that prior to their release, the elephants are given a bath in diluted elephant dung. This is done to wipe out any residual human scent so that they will be accepted by their wild counterparts.
Sponsor a calf
Raising an elephant calf is a costly procedure and to cope with the expenses a foster parent program has been set up. If you wish to, you can sponsor the care of a calf and in return you are entitled to be able to name the calf. In addition you also get to be involved in the release of the calf back into the wild. Next to it being for a good cause, this will give you major bragging rights among your friends back home!
All in all, if you visit the Udawalawe National Park, you might as well visit the Elephant Transit Home for it makes for a great story and you’ll be able to get the cutest pictures to take back home!