3 July 2010

Tracking Wild Elephants in Uda Walawe

As we drive down the dusty roads of the Uda Walawe National Park I am excited to be back in the wild.  We have exchanged our van for a jeep which we have hired for the afternoon from the park.  It comes complete with a local tracker.Sri Lanka-13This park is famous for its herds of wild elephants but it is also home to various water birds, water buffalo, monkeys and crocodiles. 

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Tall grasses the staple diet of the elephants, covers the entire landscape and during the wet season this thick covering can be a bit of a hindrance to those of us on safari here!Sri Lanka1-4The female elephant is the matriarch of the herd and looks after the young.

IMG_9045The bull elephants hang out alone and can often act in a threatening manner to the tourist trucks packed full of travellers with their massive zoom lenses primed for a bit of action.   Sri Lanka-14We have our own moments of excitement as a couple of elephants approach our truck directly.  The guide explains that we just wait it out (which  freaks my aunt out completely) but if we did turn on the engine and move, the elephant assuming we are retreating out of fear could potentially give chase.  I am quite delighted at the digital moments this provides and happily snap away, completely confident the guides will keep us safe from marauding elephants. 

The tracker explains the various hand gestures they use to ward off the elephants and if all else fails, a big punch to the ear ensures the elephant leaves us alone.  All good in theory but I wonder if there are times when this strategy fails? 

Fortunately for us, we lived to track another day! IMG_9147  "How much does a person live, after all? Does he/she live a thousand days, or only one? For a week, or for several centuries? How long does a person spend dying? What does it mean to say 'for ever'?" Pablo Neruda

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