The longest surviving tusker in the Yala National Park, fondly called “Thilak”, died last afternoon following a tussle between another elephant named “Thani Dalaya” in Sithulpawwa.
Here Wild Life Enthusiast Srilal Miththapala pays tribute to Tilak, the iconic and senior-most tusker of the Yala National Park who died yesterday
Late last afternoon telephone lines of few elephant enthusiasts were humming as the sad news of the sudden death of Tilak, the iconic, senior tusker of Yala filtered through.
Unlike his erstwhile, and notorious young‘friend’ Gemunu, Tilak never hogged the limelight. In fact Tilak was the exact antithesis to Gemunu.
Tilak’s amiable and sedate temperament allowed thousands of visitors the wonderful opportunity to observe a one of the largest tuskers in Sri Lanka, at close quarters, and his pictures are abundant, as seen on the many posts on Facebook after his death. There is not one incident on record of any hostile interaction with this gentle animal, to my knowledge.
Tilak seemed to have been around in Yala ‘forever’ as most of us regular visitors to Yala can remember. He must have been about 55 years old and was possibly the largest and oldest tusker in the park. His massive tusks were curved inwards, the right slightly more than the left.With advancing age, Tilak has been frequently sighted in the outer periphery entrance area of the park, close to the main road, possibly because he had less competition from other elephants in this area rather than inside the park.
Due to the elephant’s mild disposition, many of us who interact and study wild elephants are intrigued about this incident.
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