Of lizards, deer and why we didn’t see elephants

Actually I came for the sheer precipice called “World’s End” to Horton Plains National Park. But then the 1050 meter drop – that actually doesn’t look that high – didn’t prove to be the real highlight of the park for me. I was far more impressed by everthing that lived there than the dead rocks.

When arriving in a safari jeep, our group – two funny english guys, the knowledable guide and me – was greeted by tame (and huge) Sambar Deer. They (successfully) lingered around the visitor’s center in search for some bananas or other delicacies. The male one was coming up so close I was able to touch it’s wet nose and rough fur.

In the montane grasslands and forests itself we found endemic species like the amusing rhino-horned lizards and purple-faced langurs as well as introduced ones like rainbow trouts. Plus many lovely flowers – even though it wasn’t spring (yes, even the tropics have their seasons).

Other creatures we didn’t see, for example the shy Sri Lankan Leopard. But what we did see was it’s footprint, also where it’s narrow and low jungle path crossed the human track and we found some excrements full of deer’s fur and little bones.

We also had no chance to see Sri Lankan Elephants, becuase this sub species was hunted to extinction in the plains. A great deal of the killing was done by the british governor Thomas William Rogers who alone supposedly shot 1500 pachyderms. But, as the legend goes, the elephants took revenge (Sri Lankans believe these animals can control clouds and the weather). Major Rogers had to pay wit his own death when a lightning bolt stroke him in 1845. But that’s not the end of the story. Even his gravestone, as can be seen nowadays, was hit by lightning and split in half.

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