Wildlife; Now this is where it gets real. People and animals belong together. You can’t really make friends with a monitor lizard, but fishes like to be fed and so do monitors. They are also impressive things to see and grow to huge sizes. Snakes are also not as bad as all that. In the last house where I lived, we were surrounded by forest and there were two incredible king cobras. I passed within 1 foot of one, just by the outside bathroom one day. It was pure white and about 10 feet long. Luckily as I passed it there was a frog in its mouth, (not too bad for the frog either, who survived). I watched it as it hissed at me and slowly, (with dignity) moved away. What I have found is that it is possible to go for months without seeing a single snake and then see two in one day. I used to be scared of them. There really is no reason to be, they have no need for humans. We have most snakes here, although I have yet to see a python.
Regularly we see wild boar, which can also be pretty impressive. They are very common in Sri Lanka but I don’t know how long they will remain, a lot of people shoot them and there are even communal hunts; all the husbands of a road that a big boar might be visiting. Bank clerks, teachers, etc., all chasing a big boar, I’m naturally on the boars side, but I can’t stop this and as most areas are now densely populated I don’t know about the future for boars. As it is at present, I can see families of boars in the evenings. They make regular trips across the roads and up the hill to root for food.
Around the perahera there are lots of working elephants around Kandy, Normally about 100-120. And these we see bathing in the river below. At other times, the Maligava normally has a few elephants and anyone traveling is bound to see some working elephants on the road. The wild ones are in more remote areas, but these places aren’t far away. Its not only the national parks, most drivers refuse to travel in areas where there are elephants after 6pm. In the evening, elephants go onto the roads, perhaps its warm, and may turn over any vehicles in their way. I have seen wild elephants by the road. They hold a fascination, even for the people who live in those areas, and I chased after the elephant along with the villages to see or be near such a huge animal.
There are also leopards in not only wild places. A while ago I visited a teacher who had a nice garden. He had a problem with his fish pond, a leopard kept taking his fish. The thing about Sri Lanka is that if you are observant, there are so many animals and birds. Only last night an owl accidentally flew into our house, and we used to have a small fruit bat that spent his nights hanging from the corner of the hall ceiling. There are animals that I didn’t know even existed. My wife described an animal she had seen that I had never heard of. Apparently they are only seen normally in deep jungles. It was, according to her, like a large maggot (at first she thought it was a snake) about 4 feet long and 1 foot wide, slow moving. I have never seen such a thing. Big centipedes, about 12 inches, very common and harmless. Every night large bats (flying foxes) pass over Kandy. There doesn’t seem to be as many as there used to be, but they do fly over.