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Don’t go into the long grass!

A pair of dirty yellow eyes watches through the tall grass as the Ahaspokuna bushman cuts grass. Unblinking, silent, waiting. Just a few feet away, the blades of the grass cutter getting closer and closer. The creature’s forked tongue snakes its way out from still lips – a quivering dance. Suddenly the bushman notices something in the tall grass… something 7ft long… just by his left leg.

Python molurus, a large nonvenomous python species found in many tropical and subtropical areas of the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, is a rare sighting at the heart of our campsite! Sometimes living in abandoned mammal burrows, hollow trees, dense water reeds, and mangrove thickets… and sometimes found while cutting grass alone by a rain-fed pond in the wilderness.

As the blades of the grass cutter neared the python, the bushman noticed something slithering away just past his leg. Not quite engrossed anymore in his weekly mundane chore, he froze. Although pythons exhibit timidity and rarely try to attack even when attacked, the unpredictability of this specific one made time stop for just a moment. Like all snakes, pythons are strict carnivores and feed on mammals, birds, and reptiles indiscriminately, but seem to prefer mammals.

Snapping out of his trance, he cautiously backed up and retreated to the safety of the campsite with haste. Since, specifically, carrying a dislike towards serpents, this just wasn’t his day! Pythons in general, roused to activity on sighting prey, advances with a quivering tail and lunges with an open mouth. Live prey is constricted and killed. One or two coils are used to hold it in a tight grip. The prey, unable to breathe, succumbs and is subsequently swallowed head first. Pythons can swallow prey bigger than its diameter because the jaw bones are not connected. Moreover, prey cannot escape from its mouth because of the arrangement of the teeth – which are reverse saw-like.

Luckily, our hissing friend in the long grasses wanted trouble as much as our bushman did!

Upali - Ahaspokuna Family Bushman

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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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