“If you go out looking for wildlife, you will get many disappointments: but you will be paid back by any amount of extraordinary things you weren’t looking for.” ~ Simon Barnes
Simon Barnes is right, perhaps a bit safe in his word choice, but he’s right. John Muir once said that “In every walk in nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” In a similar breathe on wildlife and our connection to it, Muir, not as delicate in his opinion, went a step further by saying: “I have precious little sympathy for the selfish propriety of civilized man, and if a war of races should occur between the wild beasts and Lord Man, I would be tempted to sympathize with the bears.”
For someone resolute on exhuming every species possible by the hand of a camera and lens in a country foreign in every aspect, I should know better than to go against the words of John Muir or, in this case, Simon Barnes. I did seek out wildlife in Sri Lanka and for the most part, I was amiably content with what I saw. As always, I hadn’t any intention of dominating or harming an animal simply because I am upright and able, but maybe there’s a slight danger in the obsessive desire to at least capture their presence– to seek out a species in an attempt to hold a moment forever. Whatever the case, Muir was right—as he often is in matters of the outdoors and our philosophical and physical response to it—in the sense that the things we do not search for often derive a more profound impact on the experience.
In Sri Lanka, wildlife is everywhere. It’s a part of what draws people to its shores and further lures us into the thickness of dense overgrowth and the ill-faded danger of the night. Wildlife, by definition, is vague and obvious. These days, nothing is truly wild nor are they full of life for that matter, but here, in Sri Lanka, it certainly feels otherwise.
Elephants, leopards, monkeys, wild boar, mongoose, snakes, kingfishers, eagles, crocodiles, and dozens of others traversed our paths, roamed our quarters and delighted us from afar, but all of them made an indelible impact on the journey at large. For me, this is what I had been waiting for. This was the connection I craved in a wildly naive and nostalgic way. It’s a powerful notion to want a connection with some form of nature or animal that does not exist on the same swath of continent that you do. It is the true essence of an exotic excursion and while this particular expedition was for the most part anything but wild–the wild “life” that we encountered supplied the substance that the trip itself was built upon.
Please enjoy some of the photos (below) from our encounter with Sri Lanka’s Wildlife and feel free to comment and share. Thank you!