Never Look the Monkey in the Eye

Udawattakele Forest Reserve, Sri Lanka

I am home now, but this is one of my backlog blogs from my trip to Sri Lanka.

I was so excited. 

While in Kandy, Sri Lanka, we had the whole day to hike in the Udawattakele Forest Reserve.

The Divisional Forest Office of the Forest Department. It is painted green!

The Divisional Forest Office of the Forest Department. It is painted green!

The jungle forest floor was fascinating and I knew just what I was going to call my blog, “Seeds, Leaves, and Pods.” It would feature the unique plant parts I discovered on the ground in the Udawattakele Forest Reserve, Kandy, Sri Lanka.

“Seeds, Leaves, and Pods.”

“Seeds, Leaves, and Pods.”

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Our permit to enter the forest.

Our permit to enter the forest.

My brave and knowledgable travel partner (a.k.a. my husband Keith) and I were hiking a side trail. He was looking up for birds, and I was looking down for seeds and interesting leaves. He had gotten ahead of me when I noticed a monkey sitting beside the trail. 

Cool trail signs. I like the little pointing hands.

Cool trail signs. I like the little pointing hands.

Because this wasn’t the first monkey I saw in Sri Lanka, I didn’t think much of it. It was kinda cool because they were digging through the same forest floor that I was photographing. 

“Why not take a photo of the monkey digging through the leaves, seeds and pods?”  So I pointed my camera at one of the monkeys, and waited for it to do something I could include in my blog.

Not cool monkey.

Not cool monkey.

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I soon saw there was the second monkey in the treetops. And the third monkey to my left, and still another monkey ahead of me. We had walked right under a troop of a dozen monkeys. 

What happened next is still a bit fuzzy.

I looked up from my camera. Two monkeys were screaming and showing their sharp teeth. Their eyes were big. They were not running away. They were shrieking and howling at me. They were coming at me!

Instinctively, I pulled up my right foot and kicked one.  “I can’t believe I kicked a monkey,” I gasped. “It was close enough that I kicked it.” 

They retreated. Looking down and away, I marched up to meet my husband further up the trial. 

“Now we have to walk back, and the monkeys may still be along the trail,” Keith assured me, “we can do this. Stay with me.” So we stuck close together.

We marched along the trail and almost made it to the main road, when two monkeys started screaming and running at Keith. 

They were now charging my mature, skilled, and intelligent, husband!

He slipped, fell on his butt, and scrambled to grab a large stick. 

I took off my floppy white hat and held it over my head, hoping it would make me look big. Keith gave me a stick. I tried to appear large and scary as I looked down and firmly walked away. 

The other monkeys we saw in Sri Lanka were clearly accustomed to living with people and did not find us a threat. That was not the story of in Udawattakele Forest Reserve. 

Cool Seeds.

Cool Seeds.

Only after we were out of the forest did I remember something about monkeys from my early visits to the zoo. “Don’t stare at the monkeys or look them in the eyes. If you do, they will become agitated. They see it as an act of aggression.” 

It would have really complicated our trip if either one of us was bitten by a monkey. One photo is not worth a visit to a foreign hospital. 

When photographing any wildlife, always keep alert and keep your distance. They are wild. They are not your friend, and you don’t know what they will do.

And “never look the monkey in the eye.”

Leaves, seeds and pods.

Leaves, seeds and pods.