Tag Archives: wildlife

Kabaragoya

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DSCF0031 - CopyThey may not pack as much bad-ass-cred as the revered Komodo Dragon of Indonesia or the creepy Gila Monster of the USA, the Water Monitor of South Asia or the Kabaragoya as popularly known among the Sri Lankan locals must surely be in the reckoning for induction into the League of Badassdom. I for one need no further convincing on this point after numerous exciting encounters over the years.

The Kabaragoya (Sinhalese name) can be quite easily seen in many inner urban areas in Colombo, a pleasant surprise when you taking a routine walk. These lumbering lizards have contributed momentary, almost child-like excitement to many of my strolls through the innards of a growing city. This for me is a great part of their charm, the fact that they very often seem to sauntering or basking around, almost oblivious to human presence and the very real problem of their habitat being encroached. It makes me feel like a distant, non-scaly cousin who came to stay a couple of weeks and just hung around forever and they just shrugged it off being the chilled out beings that they are.

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Some serious girth going on.

The specimen pictured on the left is easily around 1.5m in length and was spotted in the Kandy Lake, just lying around near bank like it was a Jacuzzi and not giving any semblance of a rats-monkey about the several wide-eyed tourists passing by, armed with cameras, getting their Nat-Geo on with glee, in awe of these beautiful, resilient creatures that just seem to ooze badass vibes. These cats are to the reptile species what Biggie is to the rap music fraternity.

I often reminisce about one time around 2005-2006 when a bunch of friends and I spotted a giant specimen almost the length of a sedan, close to a very central part of Colombo. What a sight it was, a shame we weren’t so trigger happy back then. Interestingly, one of the largest specimens sightings on record occurred in Sri Lanka, reportedly more than a whopping, Komodo-esque 3m in length!

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It’s a thadi (big/fat) one.

Locals sometimes speak of the supposed benefits of consuming Kabaragoya meat, although I have no evidence that this is common practice. I sure as hell feel no inclination towards bbq Kabaragoya and I doubt if other, rational people would be too, given that we aren’t in exactly in a Bear-Grylls type of situation. The reptiles are generally considered harmless by people who live in their proximity and are rarely regarded as a nuisance.  All things considered, it isn’t very hard to see why there has always been a relatively fair degree of co-existence between them and us. However, it is also increasingly evident that these gentle, fascinating beasts have been taken for granted, something that humans are universally well known for, besides nuclear bombs and Coca Cola.

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I see you human, and your frozen-moment-of-time-capturing-and-occasionally-fucking-my-eyes-up-at-night device. Stroll on.

And that’s precisely why I’ve always felt that the Kabaragoya and by default, its cousin, the Thalagoya (Land Monitor) of Sri Lanka be officially/unofficially recognized as the alternative, badass, national animal. This I believe would surely help towards their preservation and thereby continue to provide us walkers, strollers, joggers, vagabonds and the general public many more thrilling and memorable encounters with these special creatures.

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The Kandy lake, so calm and serene, gently nudging your cheap-sci-fi overdosed mind to contemplate the Lake Placid-ish possibilities of the whole situation.

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Boobies!

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Blue footed boobies in the Galapagos Islands. (source: dailymail.co.uk)

Guys you can put away the lotion/olive oil. It’s not what you think. But if you read on I guarantee you will garner some very useful knowledge that could probably change your mind about sending me death threats.

Yes they are boobies, but the flying and furry kind. As you may imagine, I’ve already lost sleep trying to make sense of the thought process that led to this rather ambiguous naming of a bird specie, not that I believe it to be intentional. One popular theory is that the name evolved from the Spanish word ‘bobo’, suggesting the unintelligent habit of the birds being consistently oblivious to human presence and thereby becoming a regular feature in the dinner menus of colonial seafaring types. If they only knew of the ramifications that it would have in the age of the internet.

Anyway, now that we have extinguished any confusion, here are some fast facts on boobies:

– Scientific name: Nevermind. When do they ever come in handy.

– Boobies are fishing birds that hunt by diving into the sea, much like seagulls.

– Boobies are large, in comparison to many other seabirds. Most species can grow upto more than 2 feet long with a wingspan of nearly 5 feet. Adults easily weigh more than a kilogram.

– General physical features of boobies are that they are thick-bodied, with a long bill and large webbed feet.

– Booby species are easily found in the tropical regions of the oceans. They often travel long distances to fish.

– Boobies live up to around 20 years of age on average.

– Boobies have breeding colonies, kind of like penguins.

– Hunting can be a spectacular sight, with boobies diving from up to 95 feet. (That’s the height of the famous ‘Christ the Redeemer’ statue in Rio de Janeiro.)

– The most visually appealing kind is undoubtedly the blue-footed booby, with it’s contrasting, blue coloured feet. They are found mostly in and around the coastal regions of Central America.

– The peculiar colouring of the blue-footed boobys feet seem to mainly serve the purpose of attracting a mate. Females are attracted to the brightest coloured feet. If only we had it that easy. The coloured feet also make their mating ritual dance that much more interesting.

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A red footed booby in flight. (source: adventurersclub.org)

Little doubt that boobies are in general pretty cool. I love em. They are very interesting and amusing to watch; under unavoidable circumstances, they would be a great substitute to KFC; they have generally been nicer to humans than we have been to them; and watching a flock hunt is like watching an aerial bombardment over water. Unfortunately, even though they are doing alright in the wild, they aren’t faring too well on the internet, due to reasons that I am sure you can figure out. Let’s just say it can be very inconvenient to google them. In addition to their online presence being severely encroached on, they have also been often ridiculed for their behaviour and of course their name, adding insult to injury. This is a tribute, overdue to these wonderful creatures, the ‘real’ boobies.

And just when you thought they couldn’t be any cooler, they offer you guys the ultimate get-out-of-jail card for those occasions when you forget to delete your search/browser history or for when someone overhears your discussion with the fellas. You are welcome.

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A flock of blue footed boobies diving in the Galapagos. (source: brettwhysel.com)

Sources:

Info: http://animals.nationalgeographic.com

wikipedia

Header image: http://likka-photos.com