The sloth bears, the old man of the forest are one of the most iconic and yet misunderstood and seldom seen big mammals in Sri Lanka. Found exclusively in the dry zones of the island, they are best seen in Wilpattu and Yala National Parks. But the chances of catching a glimpse of one, is at times even rarer and more difficult than seeing a leopard.
The best time of year to visit these national parks and try ones hand at a good sighting of a sloth bear is during the period of June and July, when the berries of the Ceylon Iron Wood tree ripens. These sweet berries are found in abundance across the region during this time and the bears gorge themselves in this sweet treat. Often seen either in the tree tops or grazing for fallen berries at the bottom of the tree, these burly bruins are often too pre occupied with feasting to notice the jeeps of humans watching them.
Often almost intoxicated with the amount of fruits consumed these bears are seen quite easily and are not as shy as they usually are during the rest of year.
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