Robin's Adventures

Sri Lanka
The Pearl of the Indian Ocean

Coconut Plantation

Coconuts are everywhere in Sri Lanka and the islanders use every part of the tree and coconut in their everyday lives. The fiber from the husk is used to make rope, mats and rugs. The shells are used to make bowls and spoons. Palm leaves are woven and used for thatched roofs in rural villages. The stem in the long palm leaves is used to make brooms. Then, of course, there is coconut oil, coconut milk, and the coconut meat which are all used in cooking.

When we visited a coconut plantation, we watched a demonstration of how to properly husk a coconut and we were given a taste of the coconut milk and the coconut meat. While the meat was good, I guess the coconut milk must be an acquired taste.

Minneriya National Park

Minneriya National park, which is about 22, 000 acres of forest, scrubland, and grassland, is home to large numbers of Sri Lankan Elephants. We stayed nearby at Cinnamon Lodge and saw some unusual wildlife at the hotel. Just outside our room, there was a small ant that had a Spotted House Gecko (Hemidactylus parvimaculatus) by the tail. Not sure if this would be a David and Goliath encounter, but you have to give the ant points for making the effort.

In the dining room, Steve and Howard sampled the local Lion beer. While they liked the taste of the beer, we found it ironic that a Sri Lankan brewery would name its products after an animal that has been extinct in Sri Lanka since prehistoric times.


During our game drive, we saw quite a few Sri Lankan elephant (Elephas maximus maximus). Sri Lanka is believed to have the highest density of elephants in Asia. During an average day, each elephant will consume about 330 pounds of a wide variety of different plants.

Game Drive

Minneriya National Park had some lovely scenery and we enjoyed traveling through the park in our game drive vehicle. During the game drive we spotted some interesting animals. Indian peacocks (Pavo cristatus), are the largest member of the pheasant family. Peafowl eat seeds, fruits, and small mammals and reptiles. At night they roost in groups in the branches of trees.

Woolly-necked Storks (Ciconia episcopus) are solitary birds that don't often live in flocks. They eat insects and small reptiles and amphibians which they hunt as they walk along on the ground.

Bengal Monitors (Varanus bengalensis), which are agile both on the forest floor and in climbing trees, mostly feed on invertebrates such as insects and snails.

At the end of our game drive, as we were leaving the park, we happend upon an elephant walking down the road that had apparently had a run in with someone's clothesline and gotten an article of clothing stuck on its ear. This did not seem to bother the elephant in the least, but it made an interesting phenomenon for us to observe.

Amorous Bengal Monitors

Bengal Monitors (Varanus bengalensis) tend to be solitary creatures unless it is mating season. The female produces a chemical in a gland located in her abdomen that attracts a male.

Two weeks after her encounter with the male, the female will lay about 20 eggs which will hatch anywhere from 70 to 327 days later. Approximately 80 % of the eggs will typically hatch.

Hiriwadunna Village

Hiriwadunna is a rural village with a population of about 2,500 people. Most of the people in the village are farmers and the economy here is based on a barter system.

Transportation in Hirwadunna is aboard single axle wooden carts pulled by a pair of sturdy oxen. It is interesting to observe the symbiotic relationship between the oxen and the egrets. Egrets love to eat the insects that are on and around the oxen and the ox is very happy to be rid of the insect pests. It seems like the system of bartering in the village is even in place for the animal life.

Some of the Local Folks

A few of the local folks were out and about along the main road. We saw a man out for a stroll, a fisherman showed us his catch, and we saw a woman who had been bathing in the river.


Sri Lanka has 245 species of butterflies and 23 of these species are found nowhere else in the world. As we strolled down the path by the lake, we saw quite a few butterflies feeding on nectar from the small flowering bushes in the area.

Among those that we saw were the Peacock pansy butterfly (Junonia almana), the Lime Butterfly (Papilio Demoleus), the Brown king crow butterfly (Euploea klugii), and the Common Grass Yellow butterfly (Eurema hecabe).

Birds and Monkeys

We were not sure which way to look first. The river side of the road had an abundance of birds hanging out in the thick water lilies and hunting for their breakfast. The other side of the road had grassy fields and lush trees with playful monkeys peeking out at us.

On the river side we saw some Indian Pond Heron (Ardeola grayii), some Red wattled Lapwing (Vanellus indicus), many Little Cormorants (Microcarbo niger), and, of course, lots of Little Egrets (Egretta garzetta). The monkeys we saw were Toque macaque monkeys (Macaca sinica).

Welcome Beverage

There was a pile of king coconuts on the ground and our host picked them up one by one and deftly trimmed the top until he had a small opening for us to drink from. "Ayubowan," he said as he handed over the coconut. This is a Sri Lankan greeting which means "long life."