Without the extensive developments, such as building the tanks, wildlife would not exist in such diversity and large numbers. Thilani’s main aim during ones stay long or short is to make guests relax and enjoy the camping with the wild experience, by knowing about the range of wildlife that wander freely through it daily and the flora and fauna that gives shade and other benefits along the paths. She tells me how wild boar play outside the tents each morning, while looking for shelter beneath the decks of the rooms as the heat of the day sets in, how different types of bats, like the giant fruit bat, will fly overhead at night time as you return from the safari and how cute frogs do their welcoming calls just after the sun sets. Here, elephants also come and go as they please including a tusker, which is why they have elephant warning signs in the sand dunes on the way to the beach and in the car park; all animals can come and go as they please including in the early morning before people get up, and sometimes return in the evening while looking for fruit. Thilani says, “Do not be afraid, as they are very intelligent creatures and just want to enjoy Yala like we do.” At midnight, you can hear the sambar deer barking, the owls hooting and the jackals howling, from time to time, to warn others that there is a leopard on the prowl. Birds fly around in the early morning to say, ‘wake up, wake up’, all to the backdrop of the crashing waves on the ancient sand dunes, while the sea breeze makes the air taste of salt.”
She advises, “If the elephants come up behind you, stay still, as they react to our movements, and they do not realise their size. As soon as they are afraid they try to protect themselves, as we would, by charging if scared, so just stand your ground and they will happily amble past you.” Also, she likes to tell guests about the turtle hatcheries on the beach which are clearly marked and you can even, like on the day I arrived, see turtles, like the Green ones, laying eggs for forty five minutes, and then returning nonchalantly back into the ocean, where they surf the waves and vanish into the sea. The lifeguards then mark the area and protect it for 45 days until the babies come out, usually around the day of the full moon, as it provides the optimum amount of light for them to find their way to the water. The sand dunes also have a unique echo system, which is wonderful to observe if you stay in the hotel, as opposed to Jetwing Safari Camp, which if you book the middle floor rooms, you can enjoy both dunes and jungle in premium luxury style.