Lets Hear it for the Animals

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.

48 thoughts on “Lets Hear it for the Animals

  1. I really enjoyed this post. It’s so interesting to hear the stories behind someone’s passions. For me the chameleon is the most engaging, but all the animals that live with and amongst us enchant me… they honour us, I think, by their presence 🙂

    • Oh yes, don’t they! I think the ‘urban wildlife’ that’s still around us in Sri Lankan towns and cities is one of this country’s most endearing things – it’s like living with nature, not in the manicured and manipulated spaces we inhabit in Oz, for instance. I’m not mad keen on monkeys, really, but to be in such close daily contact with them is unbelievable. I wish I could have shown you the mongoose I sometimes see hunting in the vacant block next door, or the adorable little squirrels (chipmunks, really) that flit around all over the place, and the dozens of birds …

  2. What a lovely post. I am very fond of animals and such stories lift my spirit. I especially love the bit about the elephant orphanage. Wonderful!! Thank you for an amazing start to my day. Blessings from Lizzie Joy

    • Good morning Lizzie Joy – so glad the orphanage shots were the beginning of your day – it’s the most amazing place, though a bit touristy nowadays, but can you blame people for wanting to spend the day with these magnificent creatures? 🙂

  3. Like you, I absolutely adore elephants and was privileged to be able to spend a day with them when we stayed in Thailand, earlier this year. What amazing creatures 🙂

    Gorgeous photos!

  4. Yes, that kabaragoya looks like it could be dangerous for the dogs. It’s very similar to the komodo dragon, is it as dangerous as well?

    Elephants are awesome. I love the fact that their showing emotions and take care of each other, they also mourn their dead.

    • The Kabaragoya is probably much like the Komodo Dragon – here they have all sorts of stories about how vile and toxic it is!

  5. Wonderful photos, all of them! The gorgeous elephants made me smile….. 🙂
    Thank you for your visit to my blog, for the likes, and for following!
    Have a great day! 🙂

  6. Such a wonderful post, Meredith, and so many amazing animals. I’ve got a huge grin on my face after that photo of the elephants’ bath time. So cute. What a wonderful place you live in. xxx Ailsa

    • The world is full of wonder, isn’t it? I’m so glad I’m still able to upload something fresh for you to marvel at, JM 🙂

    • My moments with the elephants have been among the greatest gifts of my life, Caitlin – you can imagine, I think, what a thrill it is to live here with the possibility of running into one, on the street, almost any day.

  7. Meredith, I love the way you write about the animals as though they were part of your extended family! I still have yet to see an elephant in real life… your connection to them truly comes across in the photos. Bama and I are planning to visit Sri Lanka in two years’ time, fingers crossed we’ll be staying for at least two weeks during the summer.

    • What a shame I won’t still be here, James – we could have met up or at least I could have pointed you toward the hippest new places – but I’m sure you’ll find them yourselves without too much trouble. Take every opportunity you can to see the countryside – and the animals – it is a truly beautiful place. 🙂

    • The animals have always been one of the most amazing things about living here, Christine. I appreciate how lucky I’ve been!

      Welcome home 🙂

    • I adore the cold-blooded visitors too and can never decide which is my favourite of the dozens I took of them, the chameleon especially as he really did play dead as long as I was standing there. 🙂

  8. Pingback: Travel Theme: Animals (Polar Bear) | Serendipity 13

  9. What an assortment. The monkeys are engaging, and I love elephants too but the smaller dangerous ones – ? Although all animals are beautiful in their way, I am quite happy to live without the fear of stepping in front of a reptile with a dangerous tail.

  10. Perfect! Can’t decide whether i like the Hanuman troupe or the elephant pictures better 🙂 Is it common to come across a Kabaragoya like that? Must be unnerving…..no terrifying!

    • Fairly common, Madhu. This fellow stayed around for a while before wandering off – thank goodness – and we never saw him again. There’s one here somewhere, but I’ve only ever seen a sign of him, or a tail, and I think he’s immature. We have lots of wildlife here, I saw a mongoose one morning, and they say there’s a crocodile in the swamp down at the bottom of the ridge ..

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