Watching the wildlife of Sri Lanka

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‘You can paralyse a lizard with indecision’, Chana, the manager of our tree house hotel tells us, smiling at our sceptical faces, ‘Stay down low and approach him from both ends’.  We circle the small, bewildered lizard, ‘he won’t know which way to run so he’ll freeze and we can pounce’.  We creep closer, but he’s wise to us and with a flick of his tail disappears through my legs.

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We are on a trip to remote northwestern Sri Lanka and we have seen a lot of wildlife.  Wonderful wildlife, like the leopard in Wilpattu National Park who lay on her back beside our jeep stretching her lovely, spotted belly or the wild elephant vaguely trying to cross the road, head swivelling, looking out for traffic.  At the Mudhouse hotel near Anadurahapura, a wild peacock rose suddenly from a bush desperately trying to escape the downward stab of an eagle as we stood paralysed only a few feet away and thousands of tiny crabs scuttled comically between the waves on Alan Kuda Beach.

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There is also quite a lot of the rather more alarming form of wildlife; a saw scaled viper flips up from a rock near Mannar Island right under the bare feet of our guide, a scorpion fled down our shell tap in Kalpitiya and sloth bears howled in the night as we lay in our treehouse bed.  Frogs rain down from the ceiling into our curry, or hang about under the rim of our outdoor toilets.  Frogs are a major feature of this holiday, they are everywhere; one lives in a finger bowl, head peeping out between the floating flowers to greet us in the morning.  Tiny tree frogs hide out under our pillows in some unlikely appearance of the Frog Prince and I am kept awake most nights by their endless, yearning, heartfelt singing.

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