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Sound Effects :27 - 1:23 Play :27 - More
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Land Rover engine revving  








Interview 10:05 - 48:12 Play 10:05 - More
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Sanjayan Muthulingam, Tim Boucher  







2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami  

Elephas maximus maximus 34:47 - 34:48 Play 34:47 - More
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NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
27 Jan 2005

  • Sri Lanka
    Southern Province
  • Yala National Park
  • 6.372778   81.516944
  • Stereo
    Sampling Rate
  • 48kHz
    Bit Depth
  • 16-bit
    Equipment Note
  • Decoded MS Stereo

Show: Sri Lanka/Tsunami
Engineer: Michael Schweppe
Date: 1/27/2005

San = Sanjayan Muthulingam
Tim = Tim Boucher
EA = Elizabeth Arnold
MS = Michael Schweppe

00:00 MS-OK Tape 6. On the road again Thursday, jeep is stuck

00:16 MS-You wanna get out? I could get out for a little bit.

00:18 EA-Are we pulling or anything? Should we get out?

00:33 fx-truck revving

00:36 EA-Where's the close up?

00:38 fx - revving

00:43 fx- truck idles, then revs 1:20

1:27 EA-- I don't understand the zoom. This is the zoom? This?

1:33 MS-meanwhile back at this mornings excitement, one of the uh Rovers is stuck in the road and that's whats been taking. Its really muddy

1:40 man-speaking in foreign language

1:44EA-We're stuck, basically

1:50 men- speaking foreign language over truck idle

2:10 man-Its not high enough- this one. That's why it got stuck.

2:16 men-speaking foreign language over idle

2:41 MS(?)-I still think we should push, don't you?

2:43 fx- door slams

2:44 man sanjayan?-should be OK

2:49 EA-here we go. Here we go. Rope's gonna snap

2:55 fx-engine idles, roars to rev

3:04 EA-whoa, whoa

3:05 MS-whoa

3:13 EA-you don't want the rope wrapping around your axle.

3:16 men-speaking loudly in foreign language.

3:22 MS-your gonna need it. Maybe.

3:24 SAN-very smart. Clearly we are planning on doing this again.

3:29 EA-[laughs]

3:33 men-speaking foreign language

3:53 man - OK

3:54 EA-its not 4 wheel drive

3:57 man-very good

3:58 fx-doors slamming

4:00 ambi-idle, truck starts to move

4:17 EA-OK

4:18 MS-[chuckles]

4:19 man-speaking foreign language

4:22 ambi-truck noises

4:37 new scene

4:41 EA-I got it

4:50 EA-- OK

4:53 man-Oh ho ho ho

4:55 EA-Even worse ahead? How did we get stuck?

5:12 EA-He's backing up
5:16 ambi-truck

5:24 EA-he made it

5:27 man-Elephant

5:28 EA-WHAT? What?

5:31 SAN-That br.. that thing you're seeing down by [unintelligible]

5:34 EA-Oh. [laughs]

5:35 MS-Got us all excited

5:39 SAN-see [unintelligible]

5:42 man-oh, yeah

5:44 ambi-truck

6:00 SAN-speaks in foreign language

6:19 EA-So this is elephant habitat? Or everything is?

6:28 SAN-how much further do you think it is?

6:30 man-speaks in foreign language

6:43 EA-Can I just switch seats with you? So that you¿ for sound, for sound purposes?

6:50 men-speak in foreign language

6:51 MS-Sanjayan over here

6:58 MS-sorry

7:04 MS-[name] is an elephant man from shankoos(??)

7:14 SAN-no no no,

7:15 man-rabbit?

7:16 SAN-no, small animal, not rabbit, red squirrel


7:19 man-red or brown color

7:20 man-- you OK?

7:21 EA-you alright?

7:22 MS-Yeah, I guess. There's thorns in my damn arm.

7:35 man-Whats the answer?

7:38 EA-You OK? You OK?

7:39 MS-Yeah, I just got, umm

7:42 EA-Scratched

7:43 MS-Scratched

7:44 man-it's a ways

7:46 SAN-what?

7:47 man-its quite far

7:48 SAN-Yeah

7:53 EA-Guess we're not going that way.

(AMBI car idles 8:59 car moves forward

9:06 voice car sound picks up again, some voices and bleep.
937 car sound ends, exit car, seatbelt sounds chat¿

1005 pickup, dump equipment

can we ask them?


1032 that's not too bad, cell phone, bags unzip, birds chirping in the background, tape recorders open

11:03 AMBI arranging, chat and birds in the background (quite beautiful but no clear)
1157 clear birds for a second

1209 gray liners, and then
want to try a different map?

No matt went to look for a different map

Guide-Big big ide slow moving weird looking leamer like creature? We call that ide

EA -yeah

Guide-Weird call.

brit- camp would be up this river here

EA- uhhuh

Brit- did you mark where we put it at the camp(?)

1248 SAN yeah but if I download the waypoint then your going to lose yours.

Brit- just save it first.

1255(birds briefly, and ide calls)

brit- what do you want to call it?

SAN-I was calling it tsunami all this time (computer noise)
Lets give it the date

Brit How come that happens?

San-What, the waypoints? This is our campsite¿stop, stop stop stop¿

Brit And where are we now?

1327 (monkeys)

san- just give it a track log.
Brit-we are there.
Where the air is.

MS-And where are we going.
We are going there right?

San-right This is just showing that we are north.

MS-Oh I am sorry, I couldn't see the arrow that's all.

1353 computer keys typing and nature sounds 1424

brit- here we go

san - see we are not far. That's the opening, see?

Ms- oh we are right there, we are right there, show this to her and show him
Come this side¿See this is camp, this is where we are, we drove, shhhh, in the jeep, and we want to go here to see this opening. So we are close by.

1459 brit- whats this distance

MS- this is camp, where we were, and this is the river and this red line is where we drive.

Brit-Yeah we really are right there. Whats this? Do you see that mouth? Is this the grass habitat do you think?

SAN- uh huh.

SAN- these are the plan (brit speaks over him)

brit- uh brilliant.

San- these are like river inflows.

Brit-ah brilliant. So we are almost there.
San-About a kilometer.

San- we'll just go as far as we can and then turn back- well not turn back, but get out and walk

MS- you can come over here and I will show you
so here is where, Tim can you make this go?¿ this is the camp, this is your driving, this is bad driving here, you drive like this and then we are here. And then we want to go here, out to open grass.

Driver- how far is that?

MS- one kilometer
Driver- okay, no problem.

San- 20 mins

Ms- do you think you can get this across?

MS- voice- "back in the old days we used to use a compass you know. (normal voice) All this fancy gear.

EA- All I know is whenever the flash goes off it's a bad picture, right?

1653 turn it off,
ea- he's like---

1704- AMBI
picks up with car driving and people barely heard talking over the engine sounds very loud, grinding like a large truck and branches snapping

1834 EA- yay!
Car stops and idles, cars doors open

1855 MS-one more kilometer and we're done. One maybe one and half.

Ea- we'll see

Ms-I love this stuff!,

EA- I know you do, its obvious

1919 New pickup- quiet, brush sounds, cutting through grass¿birds

EA- (yells and laughs)

AMBI Car doors open 1947 car starts and pulls away quickly 2009 car stops again

Ms- they're going to pull up, this brick

Ea- if you could just saw that right there¿ yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!

2025 this way, (several male voices) lift it one, two three! (grunts and a breaking branch sound)

2046 EA- yay! (someone brushes off their hands, clapping, grass brush sounds walking back to the car?)

EA- look at this tree that its come from?

MS- looks like a banyan tree or something

2130 AMBI (get back in the car, car starts)

21:42 pick up- quiet,
EA-help me

Brit- don't be the first and don't be the last, that's a good way to avoid land mines too.

EA- if you find me on your back you'll know why.

San- that actually not a significant risk.

MS- you know there are a bazillion landmines scattered around this country.

EA- you know it took me a while hiking in Chile. I would say, (Spanish)

San- whats he doing? (Talking with a man in the distance, off mic,) I am going,

Ea- tell me that doesn't look like a snake

Ms- Tim where are you? Don't get too far ahead okay dude?

2306 AMBI-
walking ambi, some speaking quietly over walking

ms- oh beautiful

ea- there you go

san- look at this site. I think we got a nesting hole.

ms- can we take a peak down the river?

(water flowing sounds can now be heard as they walk and speak)

tim- theres a big ol' water buffalo down there

brit- what a superb feat. Take a nap off that tree and jump off.

Ms- what a superb site
Ea- oh look a the water buffalo down there

Tim- you don't want to scare those guys

Ea- when they are alone, lonely bulls?

Tim- they are aggressive.

San (speaking off mic)

Ms- wow, this is spectacular (hear river sounds and animals)

ea- its amazing to me that there are places like this. But that's a whole different story.

MS_ I will catch up, I want to get a bit of the sound of this river.

(quiet speaking and camera clicks, many outdoor birds/monkey sounds)
2600 ms walking through the grass more aggressively, with the group.

2616 speaking in foreign language.
2625 (EA/MS ) uh oh, then brisker movement away.

Ea- it's the one with the really long tail right?

Tim- that's a very pretty

San- I can't speak the language¿I don't want to be a complete jerk.

Tim- its going to take a half hour

San- I know, I know¿

San-I don't want to get those guys in particular trouble either, just flex it there. Its like you go to Alaska, and they see cuddly polar bears-

Ea- I want to get closer for a better picture (imitating ignorant tourists)
Ms- think I can pet it?

ea- every time¿


2735 monkey call,
ea- safer way to carry it.

Ms- I am not worried I am just asking for information.

Ea-I will give you that information.

2751 brit- is mark coming?
San- I think so

Brit- Isn't that amazing, a simple change in inflection

(Uhhuh's and un uhs carry forth from the group)

2826 walking
san- no wonder aliens don't understand us. (cough)

ea- in Inuit do you know how to say yes?

Brit- un uh.

Ea- look at me, look at me.

SAN (whispery to EA)
on that big tree,

EA- yeah

SAN- it landed, there a kingfish, oh Jesus Christ! Huh! It's the Indian pitta. I am not kidding you, I fuck you not.

brit- where?

San- okay see the big three, okay there's two branches going across like this on the tree in front of it. - its about 40 meters, 30 meters

Brit- oh my god you're right. Ohh my god- sanyjan!

SAN- what a spectacular bird!

Ea- okay which tree is it on?

San- okay come here,
see that big tree, two branches crossing in front of it.

Brit- look-at-that.

San- have you got it Elizabeth?

Ea- got it!

ms- that is a spectacular bird.

Ea- how did you see that?!

San- just flitted up!

Brit- that's incredible.

Ms- that is something I have never seen before.

Brit- do you have your cell phone on you sanyjan?
I have got to call Caughter Roberts¿

Ea- what a cool bird!

can I see real quick.
Ea-Indian pip pip

San- Indian pitta, p-I-t-t-a

Brit- see those two branches that go across.

m- yep

brit- its sitting on the lower one of those, the big light brown tree, is the background

ms- in the foreground

Tim-oh yeah I see it. Good spot. Its got the black banding and the white banding across the head.

Brit- describes the sight of where to look. see it marc?

Ms- no, still trying to focus this.

Brit- its sitting there

Ms- is it behind a leaf?

Brit - yep and the black stripe on its face¿.oh god its great

Ms- very turned around.

3157 (guides speaking language)

ea- so you've never seen one before?

San- no, only the second one in the¿.trail out

Ms- can't find it¿(whispers)

ms- oh its, (laughs) is it there?

3235 (ambi)

brit- did you see it hop up? (marching overtakes the sound of conversation)
thought maybe it was a woodpecker

ea- its on the ground over there, how did you even see it?

Pan- I just looked to the forest and it looked like a bird I hadn't seen before
3330 (walking)

ea- so totally psyched.

Tim- you die a happy man, with the Indian pitta

33:44 Brit- it's a good bird.

Tim- it is a pretty bird.

Ms-And pretty rare,

Tim-they are just secretive and stuff

Brit- yeah. Just in birding terms its just a good bird to get.

Ea-so I should send a postcard with a pitte on it with a check on it.

Brit- not pitte pittah!

Ea- like pita bread

Tim- exactly¿

ea- a lot of the birds here have that distinctive shape too

Tim- this is like a serious buffalo highway we are on

ea- yeah.

(guides speaking, walking)

san- oh, oh oh, oh, come back¿
don't run!

(FX elephant call and footsteps!)

(guides speaking rapidly) footsteps galloping still heard

ea- what?

Guide(Indian accent)-that's why he said not to walk around.

ea- I was just going to say, where's the guy with the gun, hooo¿.

Guide IA- sanjan we were just discussing ¿.there is also wild buffalo which are very dangerous? We were hoping to get closer?

others chime in - buffalos very dangerous¿very quick)

guide-Go along the beach?

Tim- where's the beach? That way?

guide- no, its that way, but to go back, we can get right on the beach

san- but how far away are we from this area now?
Guide- three or four kilometers from the road because the road does not go straight.

(driver speaking in other language)

ea- that was a little close
ms- that was very close, very very very close.

Guide- so do you want to do that? Because along the beach you can walk very close

San- the thing is its just a question of burning time.
And I am relying on you, to basically help me figure out, I have never been here. But you are not giving me the information I need to make a decision because and if you don't know, than you should say it so that I can look at the maps and make a decision. But its pretty damn hard for me to sort of lets do this a little bit, and a little of this and little of this and little of this¿ (talks over) and meanwhile we're just sort of burning time and burning time and I'll be damned if this afternoon that we're going over these maps with me. Because tomorrow is going to be a little bit¿ you know.

Guide- yeah
san-no I don't want excuses, I know the vehicle is gone

guide- we were trying to get as far on the road a possible.

San- it seems like we are right there.

Guide we are only three kil from the camp at the point where we just checked.

San- so its basically impossible to bring vehicle across

Guide- we can try but I told them, not to because I don't want them to get stuck.

San- basically if we go back, we are writing today off, we are not going to be able to go back out, the way things work here.

3805 Guide- we could go back and then we can go see the damage from the beach. You want?

San- we are not going to get to do what we wanted to do if we turn around now
Guide- which is see the planes

San- which is see the planes.

san- we need to see the planes otherwise tomorrow, we are on a helicopter
translate for me

(language discussion guides)

guide- not to walk within the major area of the park¿

san- will we get to see the planes?

Guide- yeah, we will get closer from the other side of the river, in the vehicles and then walk from the end.
3915 this is so that you can go, you can drive on the planes, but you would not really see.
But here you can walk around

Tim- it seems like we are right there! (rustling a lot!)

3950 (Guides discuss)

guide- they are both saying - to walk along the beach
san- explain this to me, to get to the beach, what do we need to do?

Guide- we go back past the camp, basically on the other side of the river. And you just go down almost to the beach and you just walk like a kilometer. A half a kilometer.

Ea- whats the road like on the other side of the river?

Guide-its fine, its like the rest of the park. I mean these roads, people don't really travel.

guide0 there are just some places you just can't-it is dangerous, they are not used to Sri Lankan jungles.

San- its not a question of sri lankan jungles, it's a question of logistics. There is a difference between that . I am fine with wildlife and saying this is too dangerous or getting into surf and saying we just can't do this it is too dangerous, I get ticked when we just don't have our act together. I am not in charge of this thing but its hard for me to say this is how I want it. But its pretty clear that no one wants to be in charge of it, sort of kick kick, anyone who wants to pick it up.

Guide- its like when we were discussing in the morning.

San- lets not even go there.
And if you don't know thats one thing. Just say I don't know

(off mic) we'll go and see what the vehicle situation is. We'll see if we can take the vehicle this way and if we can't then we will go back.


ms- that's fresh dung right there.
Tim- do they want picture opportunities?

San- do you want to see fresh dung, elephant dung?

ea- great
question I always ask, which is more dangerous my friend with the gun or over there?

(ambi walking 43 05)

MS- I believe I was the closest.

Ea- got an amazing moment in tape

San- I think that is the closest I have been on foot and been surprised.

ea- for the record were we supposed to run? Or were we supposed to stop?

San- for the record you are not supposed to run unless the thing is a real charge. Cause a real charge is playing dead is not going to work.

4355 Ea- and what did you do? Did you stand?

San- yeah I stood. I didn't go

Ea-are you the one who yelled don't run? k, well I ran because you said before

San- I didn't want people to go like this (stands still) and there are like 20 elephants around

Ea- right I know (laughing)

san- I could just see one, but there could be 30. I mean now you see how those big grey animals¿

Ea- right I mean I didn't see it until he trumpeted! And then I thought
San- you could walk on top of that thing.

Ea- I have to apologize to one of the guys I practically ripped his arm out of the socket

Ms- she tried to get ahead of him (chuckles)

ea laughing)

san- especially the speed at which we were walking, if you were going very slow and you were walking, then elephants have a chance to wake up too, but we were going ahead like sort of (walking in the brush)

ea- good thing I wasn't¿.huhhh

san- well, wildlife encounter
(group keeps walking)

ea- here I have been so worried about snakes and I have been looking down looking up looking all around and there was an elephant three yards away! (she laughs nervously)

4511san- even the worst thing of a snake, if you get bit by a snake, we'll get you to a hospital, its virtually impossible to die anymore in sri lanka, the hospitals have anti- venom. You get trampled by a- there's no patching you up.

Ea- right, jumping on your back won't help it that situation.

San- maybe the Toyota is here , the big land cruiser.
I hear the land cruiser

(AMBI walking)

Tim- There is a vehicle coming

Ms- maybe its stuck

4614 (car can be heard with the walking and chatting)
4634 car heard more

guide- land cruiser

4651 car pulls up
san- I have no idea, want to go see? Tell him there is a bonus I will give thousands of (something) to get it across. I'll make it 2000 rupees


san- I don't want to go back after all this, and turn around. I mean¿.I sort of feel like¿ and the elephant thing¿ I mean I wasn't delighted that the 4-wheel drive was sent off last night¿I don't know¿cause sort of no one¿.you know why.

ea- you're done
elephant when I grabbed your arm like that, I am sorry. I was scared. So I ripped your arm out of its socket. So sorry. We were close. That was really close. For you too? Was that close?

guide- yes¿ it was sleeping

san- I think I was 15 feet.

Ea- oh yeah, we were all right there. And that probably freaked it out right there.

ea- plenty of jeep,

ms- plenty

4923 (SILENT)


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