Bali Elephant Camp

Although there is some controversy about the keeping of elephants for the entertainment of tourists, it was something I wanted to see for myself. Bali Elephant Camp is home to a herd of Sumatran elephants, brought to Bali as part of a government program in 2004. The aim was to establish a protected remote population, to care for the elephants and promote the plight of these beautiful creatures. A declining natural habitat and the sickening actions of poachers has seen the Sumatran elephant population decrease by 70 percent in the past two decades. I was surprised by the distance from ground to back of elephant and the rocking gait took a while to get used to.

2.starting out

Our pachyderm was named Ari. He gently swayed his way along the path

3.down the path

guided by his personal mahout with the twitch of the rope and a whispered word.

4.nice hat

We stopped briefly, very glad we weren’t following behind.

5.when you've gotta go...

With a lighter load, we continued through gardens

before the landscape became a verdant, tropical jungle.

10.jungle

13.jungle

The nerves were jangling as the path neared the edge of the precipitous valley, hoping our mount was as surefooted as he appeared.

14.jungle15.jungle

At the end of the thirty minute trek, Ari cooled off in the wading pool while we remained high and dry.

16.cooling down

Returning to home base, Ari posed for a couple of photos

before enjoying some delicious fresh fruit and vegetables.

It was time for us to do the same, lunch at the restaurant didn’t disappoint.

23.restaurant

An afternoon downpour was very welcome and alleviated some of the heat.

24.afternoon shower

These elephants are well fed and well cared for and the funds raised from riding these magnificent creatures help protect their wild cousins in their native habitat in Sumatra. I know there are two sides to every story and this may not be the life an elephant should be living but it is far better than this.

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/environment/erin-the-elephants-plight-casts-spotlight-on-conservation-in-indonesia

 

Mary Arden’s Farm

After soaking up Shakespearean history in Stratford-upon-Avon, we drove three miles to the village of Wilmcote to the family home of the great bard’s mother. Mary Arden lived with her parents and seven sisters until she married John Shakespeare in 1557 at the age of twenty. Mary Arden’s Farm is a working farm and portrays 16th century life. Costumed workers complete the scene and we really felt we had stepped back in time. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust bought the farmhouse in 1930 and refurbished it in the Tudor period style.

1.Palmer's farmhouse

The funny thing is, in 2000 it was discovered that the house actually belonged to a neighbour, Adam Palmer, and it was renamed Palmer’s Farm. The rooms have been beautifully preserved.

The Arden family house had been acquired by the Trust in 1968 as part of the farm without realising its significance. A more modest dwelling, some of the timber framework has been replaced with Victorian brickwork but the original features date back to 1514.

6.Mary Arden's house

The outbuildings have been maintained, providing comfortable shelter for animals and vehicles.

7.Mary Arden's Farm

The evidence of hard manual labour has been retained,

10.millstone

the outdoor Tudor oven could have been the prototype of today’s pizza ovens?

11.Tudor outdoor oven

We wandered past the birds of prey, patiently waiting for their moment in the spotlight.

The boss was in her office making sure things ran smoothly.

16.the boss

Of course, I fell in love with the donkeys.

Michael fell in love with a couple of birds. He learned the way to win a heart was with a nuzzle rather than a stroke. Apparently, birds see the offering of a hand as aggression.

The occasional dead chick works, too.

23.peregrine falcon

Into a barn for, not surprisingly, a barn owl experience.

24.barn owl

No prizes for guessing who volunteered to don the glove.

25.barn owl

No nuzzles this time but the reward was the same.

28.barn owl

Billy bunny

There is a new resident here at 569. When we first saw him, we assumed he was just passing through but it seems he has made a home here, safe under a spreading grevillea.

1.Billy

Up early in the morning, he starts his day with a wash.

When he saw me watching, he tried to make himself small and thought about retreating.

Deciding I wasn’t a threat, he happily went about his grazing.

9.Phew, that was close

I assume he will leave soon to start a family of his own. Until then, I have named him Billy.

16.Billy

Lillico Beach

There is one of those, “I must go there one day” places along the Bass Highway between Ulverstone and Devonport. I am ashamed to say it took me eight years in Tasmania before I pulled off the highway to explore Lillico Beach Conservation Area. The reserve is home to a colony of the world’s smallest penguins, aptly named the Little Penguin or Fairy Penguin. I entered the walkway and immediately spotted little concrete shelters scattered through the vegetation.

1.penguin burrow2.penguin burrow

The artificial burrows are used when there is a lack of natural burrow habitat and offer protection from predators such as feral cats.

3.penguin burrows

I wandered along the viewing platform, distracted by the spectacular panorama of Bass Strait at low tide.

4.looking west5.looking north6.looking east

The burrow designs are quite innovative and seem perfectly sized for a penguin who is only 30cm high and weighs around one kilogram.

7.penguin burrow

This important wildlife corridor hugs the coast for 2.5kms,

8.Bass Strait

the shingle beach and rock pools make for stunning scenery.

9.on the beach

If I were living at Lillico Beach, this would be my choice of home,

10.penguin burrow

if only for the location.

11.penguin burrow

There were no penguins to be seen on this day, they were all out fishing in the beautiful blue ocean. We will visit one summer evening to watch them waddling back to their burrows. I won’t wait another eight years.

Taronga Zoo

On a warm December day in Sydney, we caught the ferry from Circular Quay to spend the day at Taronga Zoo. Officially opened in 1916, the zoo was based on the bar-less exhibits seen at Hamburg Zoo on a visit to Germany by the Secretary of the zoo in 1908. The 69 acre site is home to over 4,000 animals of 350 species and is a wonderful place to spend a leisurely day. The first animal we encountered was the gorgeous red panda. The deep rust-red colour contrasts beautifully with cream facial markings, the large claws a bonus when it comes to tree climbing.

These two were enjoying a nap in the humid heat, dreaming of their ancestors in south-east Asia. Binturongs have been described as a bear-cat and as tree dwellers with long bushy tails, it’s hard to believe they are distantly related to meerkats. Apparently, they have a strong odour of a cross between burnt popcorn and corn chips. We didn’t get close enough to find out.

The Java Finch seemed to be enjoying the steamy atmosphere in the waterbird exhibit.

Usually a white bird, the Cattle Egret is seen on the backs of cattle making a meal of ticks and flies. The orange brown breeding plumage becomes bright red at the height of the season. Interestingly, a group of egrets is known as a “skewer”.

9.cattle egret

The smallest known ibis in Australia, the Glossy Ibis was showing the magnificent colours of breeding plumage.

10.glossy ibis

The Asian elephant breeding program has been very successful at Taronga. The keepers led them out for their daily exercise, giving them wooden “toys” to play with.

11.Asian elephants

15.Asian elephants

The Sumatran Tiger and Snow Leopard were on alert

16.Sumatran Tiger17.Snow Leopard

but there were others who had given in to the somnolent, steamy atmosphere.

18.lioness19.bear20.tapir

I have always had a soft spot for hippos and the baby pygmy hippo stole my heart.

The meerkats were entertaining, as usual, I could watch them for hours. The dark patches around their eyes act as sunglasses to lessen the glare of the desert.

Mum and baby gorilla were enjoying a nap, dad doesn’t look too impressed at being left out.

We passed the colourful cassowary and opulent ostrich

on the way to the giraffes. The meal didn’t look very appetizing but he was tall enough to catch glimpses of the Harbour Bridge.

The world’s largest lizard at 3 metres long, the Komoda Dragon was magnificent.

38.Komodo Dragon

Unfortunately, Tuka, as he was named, died two years ago at the age of 33.

There were many fascinating lizards and snakes, I won’t even attempt to identify them.

The Indian Star tortoise was heading for lunch

50.Indian star tortoise

while the eastern snake-necked turtle cooled off in the pool.

51.Eastern snake-necked turtle

The handsome countenance of the Rhinoceros Iguana reveals the sheer pleasure of basking in the sunshine.

There was a fabulous view from the Sky Safari cable car. The lush verdancy  below

contrasted perfectly with the harbour and city beyond.

58.gondola view

Watching the chimpanzees brought us back to earth. It’s not hard to believe they are our closest living relatives, sharing nearly 99% of our DNA.

Nearing the end of our visit, we stopped by the farmyard where children can get close to the animals. The piglets were adorable

and the acrobatic goat had us wondering how she would get down from there.

68.goat

We enjoyed every minute of our day at Taronga, and with a final hint from the crocodile on how to stay cool,

69.crocodile

we returned to our apartment to do just that.

70.cooling off