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Posts Tagged ‘elephants’

Sri Lankas wildlife takes some beating

Sri Lanka's wildlife takes some beating

A couple of nights ago Jack and I were watching a video of our last trip to Sri Lanka (sad I know, but until you’ve lived with Spanish TV for 6 years, don’t knock it) and we were reminded of the incredible variety of birds and animals that you find on that island paradise. Kingfishers, cormorants, weaver birds, parakeets, fireflies, monitor lizards, elephants – and that was just in the space of one trip down the Mahweli River in Kandy.

By comparison, the island of Tenerife is rather thin on the ground when it comes to wildlife – Whiskas being the exception of course.
We once had a bizarre conversation with a Brit ‘swallow’ on his last winter sojourn when he casually informed us that wild deer roamed the pine forests around the edge of Teide National Park. When pressed, he had to admit that his information was based solely on the existence of several traffic warning signs which clearly showed the outline of a deer within the red triangular framework. We assured him that there had undoubtedly been a cheap job lot of deer warning signs for sale and the Tinerfeños were using them to advise drivers to watch out for ‘mouflon’, in their typically mas o menos way (which incidentally is the reason why bends only ever occur at 3 kilometre intervals on Tenerife…there was a sale of ‘bends for 3 kilometres’ signs – okay that’s completely unsubstantiated, but I reckon it’s true).

Mouflon are in fact wild sheep with incredibly impressive long, curled horns like some sort of mythological creature. Which is quite appropriate really as we’ve never, ever seen one. Jack thought he saw some on a ridge in the Anaga Mountains once but they were too far away to be sure and to be honest, I thought they looked more like goats. The mouflon allegedly inhabit parts of the Teide National Park and graze on rare species of plant life so they’re considered pests and apparently are killed if spotted by rangers.
Still, the point is that in six years of travelling the island and never having seen one, it seems highly unlikely that they should warrant the use of warning signs to alert drivers to their presence.

He may not be monitor sized, but hes a handsome chap neverthless - Lagarto Tizon, native to Tenerife

He may not be monitor sized, but he's a handsome chap neverthless - Lagarto Tizon, native to Tenerife

Other than the illusive mouflon, we’re pretty much restricted to lizards or run-of-the-mill rabbits, rats, bats and assorted domestic animals. Even the birds, although some are clearly spectacular, pale into insignificance alongside Sri Lanka’s 400 plus species.

But then yesterday afternoon, just as I was leaving the car park to drive to a meeting in the south west of the island, I had to brake hard to avoid hitting a kestrel which swooped down right in front of the car, grabbed a large lizard in both claws and then struggled to achieve height with the weight, flying low in front of the bonnet until it adjusted its carrion and finally flew over the banana plantation wall.

The wildlife might not come up to Sri Lanka standards, but it can still put on a show for you when you least expect it.

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Not a sight you expect to see in the town car park.

Not a sight you expect to see in the town car park.

I’m used to seeing all sorts of weird and wonderful things happening on the streets of Puerto de la Cruz from avante-garde street theatre to traditional Canarian folk dancing but today, even I had to do a double take.

When you glance over at the car park from alongside the harbour, there are some things that you simply do not expect to see.
“There are elephants in the car park” I said to Jack, not something you hear yourself say very often.
Naturally, that got his attention and before I knew it he was off, like a latter day Alice, camera in hand in pursuit of a somewhat larger, but equally swift quarry.

The elephants were merely strolling, but nevertheless managed to cover the ground at such a speed that I could see Jack’s little legs having to run to keep up. I followed in the wake of grinning faces, exchanged glances at mobile phone photos and wide eyed children. It was easy to follow their trail.
I lost sight of the elephants as they rounded windy corner and headed down towards Plaza Europa but even if I hadn’t gotten to the corner just in time to see them head into the Plaza itself, I would have been left in no doubt as to which way they’d gone.

Youd be hard pressed to find a more appreciative audience

You'd be hard pressed to find a more appreciative audience

A pandemonium of screams greeted the gentle giants from a large group of schoolchildren who were sitting in the Plaza under the supervision of their teachers. The noise brought a smile to everyone’s faces and a contagious buzz of excitement that took me instantly back to my childhood and the thrill of seeing the circus arrive in town for the August Bank Holiday weekend.

The elephants stood side by side in front of the children, gently swaying to and fro until a plastic shopping bag of apples was placed in front of each of them. They proceeded to lift the apples one at a time and devour them using their trunks with more dexterity than the average human wielding a knife and fork. When the larger of the two had finished his bucket full, his trunk wound over to the bag of apples in front of Junior, which elicited a squeal of collective delight from the children.

Classic stuff..Nellie the Elephant packed her trunk tum de dum..

Classic stuff..Nellie the Elephant packed her trunk tum te tum..

When their snack was finished, the elephants gracefully left the Plaza, the smaller one walking on its hind legs with its front feet firmly planted on the backside of the one in front and to the frantic applause and shouts of ‘adios’ of the kids.
I’m sure I can’t have been the only one there to wipe an eye whilst grinning like a fool.

With the elephants gone, the clowns took over and after them, acrobats on a trampoline and then more clowns, all introduced by the ringmaster in his splendid crimson tailcoat.
Tickets were given out to everyone offering discounted seat prices at the Gran Circo Mundial (World Circus) which would be performing in Santa Cruz all over the coming weekend and advising of location and the times of every show.

I know we’re in the digital age now and social media sites are fast becoming the mainstay of effective marketing and I subscribe to that wholeheartedly. But as far as old fashioned promotion of an upcoming event goes, I simply can’t think of anything that would have been more effective.

I’ll be going. And I bet everyone else in that Plaza will be too.

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