Two elephant calves

Photo: Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP/Getty Images

Elephant playmates

A pair of Sri Lankan elephant calves frolic under the watchful eye of their elders on July 22 at a wildlife sanctuary in Udawalawe National Park, about 103 miles from Colombo, Sri Lanka.


Sri Lankan elephants are an endangered subspecies of Asian elephant that once numbered in the tens of thousands before Britain ruled the country in the 19th century. Poaching, habitat loss and geographic fragmentation severely depleted their populations, with less than 2,000 individuals remaining by 1969.


After implementing increased conservation measures in the mid-'90s and opening several wildlife centers dedicated to the species, such as the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage and the Udawalawe Elephant Transit Center, the number of wild Sri Lankan elephants living on the island is slowly creeping upwards.


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