Blimey there must be something in the palm fronds (Pinnewalla photos)
As I hope you have noticed I try not to fall into the old diarists traps of self indulgence and of telling a well known story in an unchanged fashion, to avoid cliché and showing you things you could see on the National Geographic channel.
That said, like the rest of us, occasionally I take a two day holiday and I like to share my snaps especially of those moments that reduce me gaping in awe. I realise that, almost by definition, my readers the elephant tourists are better travelled than me and so you have probably seen this before.
My question is, how do they do it? All those elephants, so used to handling from youth, so caught up in the herd behaviour that they let the humans be the matriarch. Such a clever use of the elephants' nature to allow them to be as natural as possible and yet to follow the human command where necessary to avoid escape and grazing on the paddy just next door, bathing in the right area - walking a herd of eighty (let us face it eighty hungry elephants - there is no natural fodder left in their paddock) elephants of all ages down a village street with just two or three mahouts and no damage caused, no sneaky thieving.
How do they do it? Amazing! Please don't tell my boss, he will seriously question my mahout manning levels!
A venerable old, blind, tusker - the photo doesn't do him justice - as in nature the males are separated from the herd at sexual maturity but allowed back in a controlled fashion, mating takes place as evidenced by the babies.
...the herd amongst the palm trees with the rice fields that don't tempt them in the background!..
...on the way to the bath, like so many cattle. With apologies to the elephants but it reminded me of watching a herd being driven down a Devon lane of my youth - not even the big Aussie muster herds, always out of control - but without the side grazing, even down to the elephant (far right background) investigating a new gateway and a mahout at the back tapping her with a stick to point her to the rest of the herd.
...and on down the street - notice the traditional Sri Lankan leg chains on the rear elephant - perhaps that is part of the secret, identify and train the matriarchs and senior aunts in the herd and the rest will follow?
Apologies once again for telling you things you already know, but whatever their secret I am impressed - probably a little too late to have it work on Lawan!