Sri Lankan fauna

They had some animals in Sri Lanka. Some you might expect (elephants, monkeys); some you might not. There are wild dogs everywhere. Mostly pretty mangy and sad-looking. Not especially dangerous or aggressive, although a few of them did persistently follow us up and down the beach one evening.

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Yes, monkeys. Again, pretty common and usually safe, although you’re discouraged from feeding them. Cuter and more photogenic than flea-ridden mutts, in my view.

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One big surprise: the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kandy were infested with ginormous, screeching fruit bats. Fortunately they kept their distance. I also saw on more than one occasion dead bats hanging from electrical cables. They obviously grab hold of one with their feet, then dangle down and unwittingly touch the parallel cable below them with their head, closing the circuit and ZAP! Fried bat.

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Wild elephants usually stick to the jungle, although we were lucky enough to see one creep up behind our broken down jeep one night and cross the road (at the zebra crossing, obviously).

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Later, on safari, the road signs prepared us for the increased likelihood of sightings.

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Recent floods meant that many of the tracks in the national parks were difficult to pass. But there weren’t many alternative routes through the jungle so we usually just had to blast through, getting pulled out by another jeep when we got stuck.

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Peacock. In a tree.

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Monitor lizard, keeping an eye on things.

Monitor. Monitoring. Oh, forget it.

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Slightly larger reptiles, bathing.

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And then we hit the jackpot. Leopard! What do you mean, where? Look, right there. In the middle of the photo.

Ok, let’s zoom in a little, shall we?

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In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the leopard takes a mid-morning nap.

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After 20 minutes I was getting a little bored of this lazy cat, but fortunately she then woke up and started doing some stretching. Or perhaps it’s pilates.

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And all of a sudden she was up and walking straight towards us.

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Here’s the video shot by our guide while I was snapping photos.

Later we saw a group of four lounging on top of a rock. This is as close as I could zoom.

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Wild elephants. Still exciting in spite of the fact that we’d already been for a ride on a tame one.

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This tusked version is apparently quite rare in Sri Lanka. Note how it likes to play with clouds of butterflies.

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Note how close it’s getting to our jeep. Doesn’t appear to be slowing down.

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Breathe in…

We ran into (not literally, this time) the same beast later that morning. It walked very slowly in front of us, blocking our path. Then it shat and pissed on the road in front of us.

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Somewhat better behaved were the teensy tiny babies at the turtle sanctuary.

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They’re usually released into the wild shortly after being born, but some injured or malformed specimens are kept in order to give them a better chance of survival.

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I was surprised they let me hold one. Heavy and not particularly cuddly. The long-suffering expression on its face testifies to how many times it’s been unceremoniously manhandled in this way.

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