Sri Lankan Wildlife

I like to think I'll never get used to walking down the street, or pulling off the side of the road, and seeing monkeys.  Swinging from the trees, eating fruit, plucking bugs from each others fur, and one time even throwing a cup of ramen at me from a perch on an electrical wire, there are places in the world where monkeys just live, like squirrels in America or pigeons in Korea.  Walk down the street, monkeys.  Forget you've got some fruit in your backpack, monkeys are on that.  Sri Lanka's one of those places, with monkeys just hanging out on the side of the road.  But not just monkeys, big ass monitor lizards everywhere, elephants, water buffalo, birds of all sizes and colors, giant spiders, and in some places alligators and jaguars and other things that would eat you.  So here's a post dedicated to all the furry and not so furry creatures I found with my camera in Sri Lanka.  As always, here's 10 pictures and some foolish comments.
We pulled over to catch a glimpse of a huge waterfall right off the edge of the road.  In the trees were these little guys, waiting for tourists to drop food.
Here's another one of the waterfall monkeys.  These little guys were used to people and had no problem getting up close.

These are the fish the stilt fisherman catch.  I think a kilo goes for a buck or two.

We went on safari in Yala National Park.  The entire safari was awesome from the dusty dirt roads, to the water buffalo, to the elephants, monkeys, boar, and jaguar we saw, it was awesome.  

Just laying out in the sun.  We probably saw a half dozen of these guys and they were big.  A couple meters easy, probably three.  

The peacock's were really beautiful.  A couple, like this guy, seemed to pose for our cameras as we sat alongside them and snapped photos.

The safari was all about timing.  We raced up to this watering hole and across the water we spotted two elephants eating leaves.  We waited a few minutes and just as we were about to leave, two more came out and joined them.  We sat for another few minutes and just as another jeep full of people pulled up, the elephants sauntered back into the jungle.  The people in the other jeep never even saw them.
Sri Lanka was one of those country's where everything seems to be more colorful than anything you've ever seen before.  From the grass to the tea leaves to the feathers on the birds, it was color everywhere.

These buggers, two feet in length, were everywhere.  On the grass of one our hotels, hiding in the bushes of a temple, resting on trees, they were everywhere.  
Not the best picture, but by far the best story.  These jaguars are really rare.  Seeing one, even inside the national park is a real coup.  Our driver was taking phone calls all morning during our safari, getting updates from other drivers on where animals were being spotted.  At one point he turns around and says to us "Now we have to go fast," and he starts tearing up a dirt road.  A jaguar's been spotted in a tree and everybody's racing to get a look.  We're behind another jeep, the road's maybe a one-and-a-half-lane dirt road with dense brush on either side.  Our driver is pushing the jeep pretty hard and making like he wants to pass on the left.  Then, ahead, in the middle of the road, maybe 100 meters, a jaguar.  The big cat turns his head, looks at the approaching jeeps and slowly lopes off into the brush.  Our driver floors the jeep and forces his way to the left of the other one, all the while the dirt road and the speed are rattling the metal bars we're sitting under.  The driver and the passengers in the other jeep are close enough that we can hear them protesting, we can see their fear, clearly they think they're about to be run off the road.  Our driver, after 25 meters or so, cuts in front of the other jeep, reaches the spot the jaguar ducked into the brush, and slams on the brakes.  And just as it disappeared into the forest, I snapped this shot.  We sat in that spot for a good ten minutes while the driver peered into the brush hoping the jaguar would come out.  For the rest of the day the driver and his partner clapped each other on the back.  Even the guy who drove people around on safari everyday was excited to see this animal.  So thanks to that driver for nearly killing us, but also for getting us that close to such a rare sight.

I've got to crank out these posts at a faster pace.  Sri Lanka's already nearly a month behind me and the memories just aren't as sharp as they were.  I've got a couple more on an elephant orphanage we visited and one on the beautiful tea country at the top of some pretty glorious mountains.  I haven't picked up my camera since coming back to Korea, we're in the relentlessly cold, windy, and brown faze of Korean winter that seems to last forever.  As it heats up I'm sure I'll get back out there.

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