I wish I was this elephant…


…Because then I would not have to revise for any exams. Unfortunately, I am not an elephant and I do have exams.

Actually, maybe being an elephant isn’t that great. Here is the baby again with their mum:


Notice the chain on the baby’s ankle? The elephant below also has a chain.


Yep, these elephants are definitely chained up.


This is the elephant breeding centre near Royal Chitwan National Park, in Nepal. For a small amount of money, you can gain admission to see the elephants and learn about the work done here. And yes, when you see the elephants they are chained to posts by one of their legs. There is something about it which seems cruel and generally not nice, but at the same time the centre does brilliant work. Not only are they helping increase the elephant population, they have created a dual relationship between park rangers and elephants, whereby rangers patrol the jungle on elephant-back, thus making humans in some way reliant on the elephants. This reduces pollution from other methods of transport, like jeeps, and elephants also disturb the wildlife a lot less when out on patrol than a loud engine. The elephants benefit by being looked after and being much safer from poachers. They are only chained when they are display for visitors and have grazing areas.

Admittedly, the elephants do seem to get the least out of this as individual animals. The rangers get a ride, the jungle animals get a quieter environment and the elephants get… guaranteed food? Maybe each elephant would ultimately be happier if they were just enjoying a normal elephant life in the jungle, even if it was cut short by a poacher. But the programme is so important for keeping the population maintained that perhaps it is ultimately worth it.

Personally, I think it is worth it. I don’t see it as ‘bad’ captivity because the elephants do get a lot out of it. But, as discussed, I am not elephant, so cannot know this for certain. 

Apologies for producing a short ramble on what is actually an important subject. But I have lots of revision to do and not enough time to do it.

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Making friends

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Swayambhunath – Monkey Temple!

Swayambhunath Last April I went to Nepal. The morning of my first day, I went to Swayambhunath (the monkey temple). It is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Kathmandu and also an actively used place of worship. I went soon after dawn, so that I had the rest of the day ahead of me. This proved a good idea, as there were very few tourists when I arrived, mostly people praying. The photo above was taken after I had been there a while and you can see lots of other tourists have arrived. I really enjoyed getting there before everyone else as I got to see a lot more of the how the temple is used. At the same time, I did feel a bit intrusive walking around with my camera. I avoided taking pictures of people and tried to be as unobtrusive as possible – I also had to remember to walk clockwise around everything!!

The architecture and buildings were a massive draw for visiting. I had never been further east than Abu Dhabi before and the styles of building in Nepal are so different from anywhere else I had been. You can see from the photos it was very pretty BUT…. the most interesting part were the Rhesus Macaques which inhabit the temple.


They have the complete run of the temple complex and can be found all over the place. Because of this, you could get pretty much as close as you wanted – although I was very wary of the teeth.


What I really liked was the characteristics you could see in all the different individuals. So many of them had features which defined them from the pack, like the one above with the damaged eye. This one seemed to be a lot calmer being near people than some of the others, which would get a bit restless if there were too many people around. I can imagine that studying them long-term would reveal a really complex picture of interactions between the macaques themselves and between humans and macaques.


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The photo above reminds me of ‘youths’ hanging around on streets, what with the concrete surroundings and a look of intent.

This photo makes me smile, because you can build this grand temple incorporating all the wealth and labour you can muster, but monkeys will still come and sit on it like it is a pile of rocks:

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Obviously the monkeys needed a place to swim!


I saw the macaque below looking out over the city in the valley below. Unfortunately, I got too close for the photo and he(?) turned round and confronted me. After a brief stand-off, where he faked lunging at me a couple of times, I took a few steps back, took my photo and left him alone.

DSC03277You can see photos of monkeys smoking and praying at the temple in some of my other posts. I would have stayed longer but it began to get very busy with people and then began absolutely tipping it down, so I left!

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Bearded Dragons – yay or nay?

I am thinking about getting a bearded dragon, based on my vet friend recommending them as quite an easy pet to take care of. Does anyone have any experience with bearded dragons or any advice on getting one? With a ten year lifespan, getting one will be quite a commitment so I want to get as much input as possible.

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Roesel’s Bush Cricket (Metrioptera roeselii)

This is one of the first posts I did. I really like crickets. They make a cool sound and trying to catch them is pretty fun. I particularly like this species because of the colouring of the carapace. When I was a teenager I collected Warhammer 40k (little models you play a boardgame with) and the colour scheme I used for my race of choice (Tyrannids, for those who are interested) was very similar to this, with lots of black and lime-green. It definitely reminds me of some fond memories.


Roesel's Bush Cricket by tomp77
Roesel’s Bush Cricket, a photo by tomp77 on Flickr.

I had been looking out for this species of cricket since seeing it in an identification guide. The most interesting aspect of this cricket, I think, is the light green edging on the pronotum (a type of exoskeletal plate). Splashes of colour like this really change the animal slightly, making it look more exciting and perhaps a bit tropical. This cricket makes a loud, continuous noise, louder than other crickets.

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Don’t they know that smoking kills?


I watched this Rhesus Macaque spend a good five minutes trying to get in to a pack of cigarettes at the Monkey Temple in Kathmandu.

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Just catching some rays…


I can’t imagine that sunbathing behind a wire fence leaves the best tan lines.

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Praying Monkey



This was taken at Swayambhunath in Kathmandu, Nepal, aka the Monkey Temple. I will do another post about this place at a later date, but for now here is a photo I am fond of. 

Throughout the temple complex, there are many shrines where people burn food and incense. There are also, as the name suggests, a lot of monkeys (specifically, Rhesus Macaques). I noticed a man putting food down and lighting a candle at the shrine in the photo. He then left and, seconds later, a monkey was on the scene, eating the food. I took a photo because it was a funny moment. Once I looked at the photo, I thought it was almost touching, because I think it looks like the monkey is itself making the offering at the shine. 

I like these moments, where a photos captures an animal taking on human characteristics. Frans Lanting’s series ‘Eye to Eye’ is one of my favourites for this reason. 

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Nearly a year…..

So I have failed to update this for nearly a year now. I have many an excuse lined up for this (in no particular order): doing 5 years of exams in the space of 9 months and failing a third of them, coming out to my parents, changing office location, subsequently moving twice in a couple of months, training for and completing a 300 mile charity bike ride, fundraising for the bike ride  and breaking my laptop. Plus, only being outside of the office when it is dark from October onwards meant no photos during the week, and weekends have been spent with domestic activities like cleaning the house and trying to fix a toilet handle. 


Things are now looking up. I have a back catalogue of photos from when I went on holiday to Nepal last year. I have recently joined the RSPB ( a UK nature charity which has reserves around the country) and am aiming to visit some of these reserves with my camera. I will be fitting this around retakes for the failed exams plus my job. 

So thanks for reading my excuses! Here is a photo of a monkey:


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Hoverfly Close-up

I took this photo last summer. I zoomed the photo in too much when editing it, but I like the bright colours. Someone identified the species as Helophilus pendulus. The photo below is of the same hoverfly but taken from above. I prefer this one because the green background is completely our of focus, compared to the focussed purple.


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