Leopards of Wilpattu Photo Gallery

Leopards of Wilpattu
Leopards of Wilpattu
Leopards of Wilpattu
Leopards of Wilpattu
Leopards of Wilpattu
Leopards of Wilpattu

Nelum Wila Male 4 - NWMC 4

Locations of sightings

Nelum Wila, Kokkare Villu to Kuruttupandi Villu, Kumbuk Wila, Herathhamy Wala, Kanjuran Villu, Kattarabu Villu, Kuruttupandi Villu

First Sighting

10th August 2014 at 6.04 p.m.

  • 4th November 2022 at 11.46am one leopard on Kokkare Villu upper road. N 08.41645, E 079.98241

    The leopard was walking in the direction of Nelum Wila four-way junction (Thammanna Gaha Junction). As he came into my view, the adult male looked back in my direction momentarily and continued to walk. This is usually an indication that the leopard is tolerant of vehicles so long as you give it adequate space. I followed it while maintaining a distance of about 40 meters. Even the leopards who are habituated to vehicles will walk off the road and disappear into the forest if you get too close. The leopard walked for about 20 to 30 feet before sniffing the bushes and spraying them with its urine, which is typical leopard behaviour. On a few occasions he stopped to look in the direction of the forest and briefly looked in my direction before continuing his walk.  There was no opportunity for me to get any images of its face. Photographing while driving behind a leopard that would occasionally look back at you is quite a frustrating experience. When the leopard looks back you must stop the vehicle at an angle, focus on the leopard’s face, compose the shot, and shoot before he looks away. On most occasions, as in this instance, the leopard would commence his walk before you are able to take any photographs. Having walked for about 30 minutes his attention was drawn by some movement in the forest. He assumed a stalking position and walked slowly into the forest. I waited until the leopard was out of sight and drove ahead for about 200 meters from where he entered the forest, turned the vehicle, and waited with my camera positioned for photography. Very often leopards would move into the forest while walking but would move back to continue their walk unless they are disturbed. Thankfully after about 10 minutes I was thrilled to see him come into my view over a bend and walking in my direction. I was able to get a few good images. Having walked for some distance he stopped and sat on its hunches. A troop of Grey Langurs spotted the leopard and started making loud (Kak – Kakhoo - Kak) alarm calls. I reversed the vehicle to give the advancing leopard space. About 50 meters before the four-way junction he moved off the road in the direction of Nelum Wila. I waited for some time and drove back on to the Nelum Wila road and managed to spot him again with its body close to the ground. He was sniffing and licking the road before walking across and disappearing into the forest. Upon checking the spot pattern, I noted that this is Nelum Wila Male 4 (NWMC 4) on my site who is popularly referred to by the jeep drivers and guides as the “Herathhamy Wala Kotiya”.

  • Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 4th November 2022 at 11.46am Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 4th November 2022 at 11.46am Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 4th November 2022 at 11.46am Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 4th November 2022 at 11.46am Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 4th November 2022 at 11.46am Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 4th November 2022 at 11.46am
  • 5th September 2021 at 3.20pm one Leopard between Kanjuran Villu and Kaali Villu. N 08.46498, E 079.95459

    A round 2.30pm while I was at Mahapatessa, the jeep drivers who were returning from Kudiramale point informed me of two leopards seen at Kanjuran Villu. I decided to drive up to Kanjuran. When I arrived as there were no signs of the leopards, I proceeded towards Kaali Villu and spotted an adult male leopard by the side of the road walking towards Kanjuran Villu. He moved into the forest as my vehicle came to a halt. I immediately drove ahead for about 10 minutes and turned the vehicle. On my return journey I approached the area where the leopard was seen at very slow speed. I was pleased when I saw the pug parks back on the road. He has moved back on to the road and was walking towards Kanjuran Villu. I drove forward and saw the leopard on the road. I then followed him while maintaining about 25 meters distance all the way up to the villu. Having arrived at the villu he moved along the edge of the forest and started to sniff one place for some time with its body close to the ground. He then rubbed his face and rolled over as if he is scratching his back. Perhaps this was the location where the other two leopards were seen few hours ago. Thereafter he continued to walk along the forest edge while stopping every 25 feet or so to sniff and “mark” the bushes. Having walked across the villu he moved into the forest and started “sawing” (a leopard call which resembles sawing of wood).

    Later upon examining his spot pattern I was able to recognize the leopard as Nelum Wila Male 4 (NWMC 4). I first saw this leopard at the Nelum Wila pitiya Herathhamy Wala (Thelambugas Wala) in August 2014 when he was around 1 year and 3 months. He is now a mature male of 8 and a half years and is in his prime.

  • Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 5th September 2021 at 3.20pm Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 5th September 2021 at 3.20pm Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 5th September 2021 at 3.20pm Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 5th September 2021 at 3.20pm Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 5th September 2021 at 3.20pm Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 5th September 2021 at 3.20pm
  • 13th December 2020 12.07pm a Leopard between Kumutu Villu and Kanjuran Villu. N 08.45708, E 070.95879

    It was a mature male seated among the “Keppetiya” plants about 20 feet to the left of the road. Its lower chin was red indicating a freshly killed prey. The “kill” was not visible as it was concealed by foliage. I immediately reversed the vehicle, fearing that the animal might move into the forest. The leopard continued to look in my direction and I managed to get a few images. Much to my relief the leopard lowered its body and started to feed. There was no other vehicle in the vicinity thus it was quiet. I could hear the snapping of the bones as the leopard fed on its kill. In a few minutes, much to my satisfaction, he walked on to the road and started to walk in the direction of Kanjuran villu. The prey would have been a small animal. I followed him keeping a distance of about 50 feet. Every 10-15 feet he would stop to sniff the branches and tree trunks on either side of the road and scent mark by spraying urine. At some places he would urinate on the ground and scrape the ground by using each hind foot alternatively. During my study of Leopards in Wilpattu I have noted that male leopards scent mark more regularly than females. A female will usually walk for a bout 30 feet prior to stopping for scent marking.

  • Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 13th December 2020 - 12.07pm Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 13th December 2020 - 12.07pm Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 13th December 2020 - 12.07pm Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 13th December 2020 - 12.07pm Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 13th December 2020 - 12.07pm
  • Every now and then he would stop and lie down for a few minutes. Each time he “rested” he would lick his paws and body, reminding me of my pet cat at home engaging in similar behavior after each of its meals. On one occasion he started to sniff the ground intently, lowered its body to the ground and started to rub his face vigorously on the ground.  After doing so the leopard rolled over on the same spot until he was distracted by some noise in the forest. Leopards are known to sniff at the ground or dung of various animals and roll on it. I observed the spot after the leopard had moved but did not observe any dung. Perhaps it was a spot where a female had deposited urine and he was excited by the smell of her pheromones.

  • Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 13th December 2020 Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 13th December 2020 Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 13th December 2020 Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 13th December 2020 Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 13th December 2020
  • 12.48pm the leopard stopped walking, lowered its body to the ground and started looking at something to his right. All at once he leapt on to his right and disappeared into the forest. But in less than a minute he walked back on to the road. It’s amazing how fast these cats can move when it is required.

  • Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 13th December 2020 - 12.48pm Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 13th December 2020 - 12.48pm
  • 12.54pm having reached Kanjuran Villu the leopard moved into the forest in the direction of the road to Kaali Villu. I drove ahead passing the villu on the road to Kaali and waited, expecting the leopard to come on to the road again but had no success.  The alarm calls of the squirrels and the Jungle fowl indicated that he was moving deep into the forest. Later upon checking its spot pattern I was pleased to note that this is Nelum Wila Male 4 (NWMC 4), that I had first photographed as a young male in August 2014 at Nelum Wila Pitiya. My last observation of this leopard was one year ago on the 15th of December 2019 at Kuruttupandi Villu. I had not received any records of him since then from any of the 60 plus photographers who regularly contribute to my study.

    This Leopard sighting was very special. I was on my own observing and photographing one of the very seldom seen mature male leopards in the park for almost an hour with no other safari jeeps around to cause any disturbance.

  • 15th December 2019 at 12.38pm one Leopard at Kuruttupandi Villu N 08.43657, E 079.98250

    Some of the jeeps left and a few remained. I was listening to the intermittent alarm calls of a Giant Squirrel, Indian Palm Squirrel, Ceylon Jungle Fowl and White-browed bulbuls and decided to stay at the villu. All at once the Grey Langurs started making their frantic alarm calls towards the road leading to Kuruttupandi Villu from Kokkare Villu and the few jeeps parked close to me hurriedly moved in that direction. I decided to stay put expecting the leopard to make an appearance at the Villu avoiding the commotion on the road and much to my joy a handsome male leopard walked on to the white sand patch from the jungle. As we had started having our rice & curry lunch there was no choice but to reach for the cameras with curry drenched hands and start shooting. The male Leopard moved down to the edge of the water and started to drink. Thereafter he moved back into the forest. I was thrilled that my patience paid off. We were the only party at the villu at the time. Upon examining the images, I was thrilled to find out that this is Nelum Wila Male 4 (NWMC 4). On 19th October this year I photographed this Leopard close to Kattarambu Villu and during my previous visit on the 11th of November between Herath Hamy Wala and Kattarabu Villu. The distance from where he was observed on 19th October to Kuruttupandi is 7.7 Km on a straight line going by the two GPS points. (With guide Tissa Ratnayake)

  • Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 15th December 2019 at 12.38pm Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 15th December 2019 at 12.38pm Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 15th December 2019 at 12.38pm Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 15th December 2019 at 12.38pm Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 15th December 2019 at 12.38pm Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 15th December 2019 at 12.38pm
  • 11th November 2019 at 11.36am one Leopard between Herathhamy Wala and Kattarambu Villu. N 08.49915, E 079.99039

    We spotted a male Leopard seated on the road, ahead of us, and looking intently into the forest. I stopped the vehicle about 50 meters from the animal to give it adequate space. Within a few minutes the Leopard started to walk in the direction of Kattarambu Villu.  Every now and then he would stop and looked into the forest as if to pounce inside but then would commence the walk again. Every 30 meters or so he would sniff and scent mart the trees and bushes along the road. Even though we followed the animal he did not even once turn back to look in our direction.  After walking for about 100 meters, he entered the forest.  But just before moving in, much to my surprise, he turned back and started to walk in our direction to inspect something on the road permitting me to get a few images of the animal facing us. Later upon examining the spot pattern I was able to identify the leopard as Nelum Wila Male 4 (NWMC 4). (With Gihan Sampath Jayawardena)

  • Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 11th November 2019 at 11.36am Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 11th November 2019 at 11.36am Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 11th November 2019 at 11.36am Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 11th November 2019 at 11.36am Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 11th November 2019 at 11.36am Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 11th November 2019 at 11.36am
  • 19th October 2019 at 9.22am one Leopard close to Kattarambu Villu. N 08.50627, E079.99149

    Having visited Kattambu Villu I was driving back towards Mana Wila when I noticed a movement of an animal off the road ahead of the vehicle. As we advanced saw a male Leopard just by the side of the road. It was very close to the vehicle and continued to move into the jungle. I only managed to get a few images of its flanks as he quickly disappeared into the thicket. We drove up to Herathhamy Wala and drove back expecting the Leopard to have moved back on to the road but had no success. Thus, we drove in to the Kattarambu Villu and waited for about 10 minutes before driving back again towards Mana Wila.

  • Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 19th October 2019 at 9.22am
  • 9.35am I was thrilled when we spotted the Leopard on the road very close to Kattamabu Villu. He was walking in our direction, and I was able to get a few images of the advancing animal before he moved back into the forest. Upon examining the spot pattern, I realized that this is the same Leopard that we observed earlier, and it is Nelum Wila Male 4 (NWMC 4). on my site. My last sighting of this male was in August 2016. (With guide Tissa Ratnayake)

  • Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 19th October 2019 at 9.35am Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 19th October 2019 at 9.35am Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 19th October 2019 at 9.35am
  • 23rd June 2018 at 9.15am One Leopard at Kumutu Wila. N 08.45941, E 079.97356

    It was lying down at the edge of the forest across the Villu. Upon seeing a Spotted Deer stag coming down to water the leopard started to stalk and moved in the direction of the deer that was oblivious of the crouching leopard. Having moved very close to the deer the leopard crouched against the reeds. The stag did not notice the leopard and walked passed the crouching leopard. Much to my disappointment the leopard did not attack and watched the deer move back in to the forest.  There after the leopard trotted in the same direction and disparaged into the forest. Later upon the examination of the images I was thrilled to note that this is Nelum Wila Male 4 (NWMC 4) that I had first seen in August 2014 and last seen in February 2015. I had not received any images of this leopard for more than three years from any of the contributors to my site. I was extremely pleased to note that this leopard is live and well. (with Guide D.M. Wasantha)

  • Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 23rd June 2018 at 9.15am Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 23rd June 2018 at 9.15am Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 23rd June 2018 at 9.15am Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 23rd June 2018 at 9.15am Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 23rd June 2018 at 9.15am Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 23rd June 2018 at 9.15am Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 23rd June 2018 at 9.15am
  • 20th August 2016 at 12.01pm one Leopard at Herathhamy Wala. N 08.49333, E 079.98961
    We spotted the leopard sleeping under the bushes at the edge of the water. During the three hours of observations the leopard moved its location on a few occasions but did not move out from under the bushes. It was a young male, and I estimated the age to be around 3 years and 3 months.
    2.41pm the leopard stood up and walked to the edge of the water and had one sip of water before moving back into the forest. I suspected that the mud at the edge of the water might have been too warm. It was  Nelum Wila Male 4 (NWMC 4). (With guide Tissa Ratnayake)

  • Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 20th August 2016 Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 20th August 2016 Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 20th August 2016 Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 20th August 2016 Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 20th August 2016 Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 20th August 2016
  • 7th February 2015 at 4.42pm Nelum Wila Male 4 (NWMC 4) between Kokare Villu and Kuruttupandi Junction.  N 08.42457, E079.98348
  • I drove down from Kokkare Weli Kanda and proceeded about 100 meters on the road to Kuruttupandi where the leopard was spotted on the road. I immediately turned off the engine. The leopard responded by lying down on the road. I managed to get a few photos but unfortunately a vehicle that advanced from the opposite direction at considerable speed made the animal run off in to the jungle. (with Guide C.K.Dissanayake)
  • Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 7th February 2015 at 4.42pm Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 7th February 2015 at 4.42pm
  • 10th August 2014 at 6.04 p.m. 1 Leopard at Nelum Wila Pitiya. N 08.40588, E079.98785.
  • As we drove into the “pitiya” from Maila Wewa Danushka said  “sir kotiya, kotiya”. It had been out and moved behind a patch of dried grass and was not visible. I turned the vehicle and waited for a few minutes. The leopard walked out permitting me to get enough photos for identification. It was a young male leopard of about 1 year and 3 months that I had not photographed earlier. Its feet and belly were covered in mud giving it a darker appearance. We left, as we were already late to reach the park entrance. This is my first sighting of this leopard. I named it Nelum Wila Male 4 (NWMC 4). ( with guide podi Danushka)
  • Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 10th August 2014 at 6.04 p.m. Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 10th August 2014 at 6.04 p.m. Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 10th August 2014 at 6.04 p.m. Nelum Wila Male 4-NWMC 4 - 10th August 2014 at 6.04 p.m.