A ghost in the jungle: spotting lost leopards in Sri Lanka

It’s late, I’m slogging away on a deadline about Sri Lanka. Ok, I’m not. I’m blogging instead. But to take a break from wringing words from a bleeding brain, I started hunting for photos to accompany the piece, which has a breakout on leopard spotting in Yala National Park.

And you know those weird things that get in your computer system and fidget with your photo catalogues? Yes, those. They were in there, and this is the photo they lost.

The young female leopard was standing on the side of the dirt track we were cruising in our 4WD. Noel Rodrigo, internationally hailed as Sri Lanka’s leopard whisperer, saw her and pulled up sharp. She wandered across the track in front of us, then padded along the dirt road before turning back into the scrub. Within seconds, she had disappeared from view once again, a ghost in the jungle.

Noel’s camp is located around the back entrance to the park: up to 400 trucks pour through the main gate every morning, cowboys roaring through the park, two-way radios blaring, each promising a glimpse of these elusive cats. We crept in the back gate early and slowly to find our girl. And now I’ve found her again.


About the author

Fear is found on a creaking glacier in the Caucasus mountains and joy is encapsulated in the perfect Shanghai dumpling. And while I love a $500-a-night hotel room (who doesn’t?), sometimes the best stories are found in a $20 guesthouse. With an eye always out for good markets and great street eats, I write the travel news and features for the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne’s The Age newspapers, and features for whoever else asks. I have a particular soft spot for the wilds of the Middle East, scarves and carpets. My articles and photographs have been published in a range of consumer magazines and newspapers in Australia and abroad.

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