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Joyce’s travel diary Sri Lanka (3)
This morning Manori and I worked on our ID photos from the previous afternoon and then had a meeting to discuss various aspects of the project. After that we had an early lunch of fruit and soup and then gathered our things and headed toward the park. The elephants are in the forest in the morning so this allows us to do much needed office work without feeling like we are missing anything. Today was better for me - I recognized some of the females we had seen the day before including a "pretty" female with a scoop out of her right ear, a female with elongated ear lobes and another with a small cup-shaped notch out of her left ear. They were all in a group of 12 elephants (not a perfect count, however) though yesterday two of these females had been in the group of 7 elephants, and the "pretty" female had been in the group of 9. Mmmmm - one large family, or...the plot thickens!
Then we saw a big group of 31 elephants with a couple of small calves and a large female with a very torn left ear. She will be easily recognizable again. With her was a female with very pink edges to her ears....and many more. A group of 16 elephants included a large female with a hole in her left ear. This had some drivers nervous because there is a female with a hole in her left ear that is aggressive - so all females with holes in their left ear are "the female with the hole in her left ear" and cause for concern! She seemed very calm to me and may be confused with the female who chased vehicles and kicked our car back in 2003 - she had a hole in her left ear....
All the groups we were with today were cow-calf groups - in other words mothers and their calves without any adult males. Now I have to stop - its 23:33 and I have to be ready to use my brain again tomorrow! 19/09/08 Manori and I spent the morning working on budgets. At 10:30 were joined by colleagues for more elephant discussions, we had lunch and then set out for another afternoon with elephants. It was fabulous! The elephants were extra ordinarily close this time and there was lots of interesting behavior. A musth male visited the group, passing within a couple of meters of the car several times.
I thought you would enjoy reading some of the comments I made on the dictaphone as I was watching:
15:58 OK, got some fantastic behavior here as the musth male is moving through the group testing, females squeaking, some females testing one another, females putting trunks into one another's mouths, and then as the musth male moved to another part of the group again the females began rumbling and ear flapping, so its quite similar to african elephants. Its not a modulated rumble, though, rather quite flat.
15:59 Something very different.... the musth male is testing a female and is trying to bite her tail and she's pulling her tail away, he grabs it again, so some subtly different behaviors...our (African) males don't do that!
16:11 Ok so suddenly heard some short squeaky kind of trumpet, a kind of trump, and ah the elephants moving toward something in the grass with their trunks raised, and then I guess Manori saw a jackal running away so this group of about 5 elephants went following after the jackal so again similar kind of behavior to African elephants.