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Bush Horrors Series: Blood and Scales

At precisely 10:30am, on 4th April 2018, we stumbled across something fascinatingly devastating while deep in the forest.

It was an unusually warm Wednesday morning, the tropical heat bore down on the forest as we ascended from the grasslands and into the mountains on a bushwalk. Following a path made by elephants into the wild, we saw the usual residents – grey langurs, butterflies, and 4 different species of birds – so all in all it seemed like any other bushwalk. However, we didn’t know what we were quite in for when looking for a spot to take a break. On a small forest patch across the dark mountain rocks, a fresh, half-eaten carcass came into view.

As a naturalist, finding an animal carcass is like finding devastating, hidden treasure. What were the events that lead to such a brutal death? Was the tango with the Reaper a long, drawn out chase or a fast kill? Chunky scales and ripped up body parts were strewn across the grass; this was once an Indian Pangolin (Manis crassicaudata). These pangolins are not often observed in the wild due to their solitary, secretive, and nocturnal nature. When in danger, they curl themselves into an impenetrable ball as self-defence against predators. On closer inspection, the carcass showed signs of being attacked and partially devoured by a leopard prior to its self-defence move. We left the carcass untouched; we have a sacred code to just be observers when in the forest, taking and leaving nothing behind.

Yes, this bushwalk may have started out like any other ordinary bushwalk, but it certainly ended on a more extraordinary note.

Avi – Ahaspokuna Family Naturalist

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A H A S - P O K U N A

In the Sinhalese language (spoken in Sri Lanka), “Ahas” means “Sky” and “Pokuna” means “Pond” or “Pool”. Ahaspokuna is so named in reference to the lake here, high up in the hills, that is only fed by rain water. A former settlement that sprung up on its shores was subsequently also named “Ahaspokuna”. Today, the jungle tide has washed over where people once lived and the camp provides a wilderness retreat for those in search of something different.
Ahaspokuna by Eco Team

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