We’re delighted to bring you an interview with Noel Rodrigo, founder of Noel Rodrigo's Leopard Safaris, an award-winning camping safari experience operating in Sri Lanka's Yala and Wilpattu National Parks.
Q: Where in Sri Lanka are you from?
A: I was born and bred in Colombo, but I’ve spent most of my life in the jungle.
Q: What fuelled your love for Sri Lankan wildlife?
A: I was born like this – loving nature and wildlife.
Q: What inspired you to start Noel Rodrigo’s Leopard Safaris?
A: I wanted to share my passion and hobby with like-minded people.
Q: What can you typically see on a game drive with Noel Rodrigo’s Leopard Safaris?
A: Our name says it all! Though there is of course always luck involved in nature, but all of our naturalists have a lot of experience in tracking leopards, which significantly increases your chances. Apart from that you can see a lot of other mammals (elephants, sloth bears, jackal) and birds, and don’t forget the reptiles!
Q: Can you share with us your best leopard sighting, and where?
A: We once saw five leopards together, which is a world record. Check out our photographs on our website and have a look at our video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Ygs-l42_7g&feature=youtu.be
Q: How is the Sri Lankan leopard different to other leopard sub-species?
A: The (Sri Lankan) panthera pardus kotiya sub-species is the largest leopard in the world, with a big male growing up to 85 to 90kg.
Q: Name three Sri Lankan wilderness must-sees or experiences
A: Yala National Park, Wilpattu National Park and the Knuckles Mountain Range.
Q: What essential items should guests bring on their game drive?
A: A decent camera with a good zoom lens; extra batteries; and plenty of memory cards.
Q: Can you share a surprising or little known fact on Sri Lanka?
A: Sri Lanka has one of the highest density of leopards in the wild, and the best place to spot them living free. Leopards are very adaptable and most of Sri Lanka’s leopards (estimated 50% to 60%) are living outside of the national parks.
Q: Can you share any tips when planning wild Sri Lankan itineraries?
A: Please allow ample time to spend in one park as travel times are longer than you think. Clients shouldn’t do a safari to tick it off their bucket list but as a truly wild experience. I advise you all to come and experience what we are doing to see for yourselves, and enjoy a wilderness safari and jungle stay in style.Contact us to discuss planning your own Sri Lanka wildlife adventure.