Before I made the acquaintance of the Hanuman Troupe, my passion was for elephants. It still is – it’s just that I have become passionate about observing and shooting the everyday lives of my resident troupe of monkeys.
Hanuman’s Uncle came by the other day
and this Aunty was among relatives resting companionably in the shade under the cinnamon tree – until I stole this capture, when they all bounded away!
It’s a marvel to me that The Girls don’t react to our simian visitors. When we lived at Kotte, visiting wildlife occasioned equally wild beagle barking.
In the case of the Kabaragoya they came across in the lane outside, this was extremely dangerous – the fellow was over six feet long, and could have killed them with one swipe of its tail.
For the chameleons on the other hand, The Girls’ enthusiastic games could have led to disaster for the tiny creatures. Thankfully chameleons seem to have nerves of steel, playing dead long enough for me to drag The Girls away, and distract them with a ball.
The worst palaver, though, was reserved for this fellow. He came several times and I was able to get close enough to see that he had a delicate chain around his waist – so, an escapee! I guess he was lonely, and bored, and The Girls gave him just what he wanted – aeons of carefree time, playing chase, swinging just out of reach through the trees. Problem was, not all the branches could support his weight as he came swooping down to tease them, and The Girls forgot all their lessons and trampled through the garden like a herd of buffalo. I learned to dread that cry of theirs – braying as though they were the entire pack at an old English fox hunt!
Some people feed wild visitors, leading them to become pests – though I have to admit I was momentarily enchanted by this greedy fellow when a friend and I were at Kandalama a few years back. I don’t know how many bananas he’d stolen – several, by the look of his throat pouch!
When I was a little girl I had my friend Ruggles (a black lab), and a pink elephant. Because I had Ruggie, I didn’t trail the pink elephant behind me wherever I went, Christopher Robin-style, although he did need a bath one day, and that spelt the beginning of the end for my beloved straw-stuffed elephant. Touched by my sadness, my godmother presented me with a magnificently crafted blue leather elephant, complete with handsome caparisons – but this was an object for admiring, not loving.
That is perhaps a lesson I needed to learn before coming to Sri Lanka, because my passion for elephants makes it difficult to remember to keep some distance between myself and these larger that life creatures. The first elephant I met here loomed up in front of us in the middle of a busy street. I’ll never forget it. Turns out, in those days – twenty years ago, even ten years ago – we’d often see elephants on the road, on their way to work, going for a bath, or to a Perahera.
If not, one’s passion could be fed by an occasional visit to see the orphans (young and old) at the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage
- a particularly joyful experience at bath time -
or to Kandy at Perahera time, when every spare corner or park becomes an elephant stable,
or a trip to the Mineriya tank in the dry season, or to Yala, or another of the country’s wildlife sanctuaries – but I’ve shown you pictures from those sightings, so I won’t show them again!
Ailsa’s Travel Theme this week? Animals, of course – a subject that, for me, is so closely related to yesterday’s WP Photo Challenge, Happy, that what should have been a Travel Theme has become a small tribute to some of the animals that make my life here in paradise so happy.