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The Katussa fell from the tree in front of me. As we had taken a general interest in the gamut of wildlife present in the Moneragala area, I walked over to take a closer look. I was a bit taken aback to note that the lizard had apparently injured itself when it fell and had a bright red head. I was even more taken aback when the bright red head turned white. Calling Nuwan over to have a closer look, I noted that it was a bit nervous, scattering through the leaves as I came closer.
Nuwan quickly identified the katussa as a somewhat rare lizard known as Calotes ceylonensis, which also goes by the much more lyrical common name of the Painted-Lip Lizard. Notably this species is only found in Sri Lanka and is one of the five lizards of the Calotes genus which is endemic to our emerald isle (as a wildlife geek, I rejoice in such facts as this).
We hatched a hasty plan to capture the creature to record its details for posterity. What followed was something like out of a Monty Python skit, Nuwan clambering on a thorny vine as the lizard evaded all attempts at capture. Eventually he climbed around 10 feet up a tree, balanced precariously on a vine and managed to scare the lizard towards me while I affected my best attempt at a rugby tackle (a gentle rugby tackle considering it was a lizard that we were capturing) in order to pin the lizard down. Note that no harm came to Mr. Ceylonensis as we were extremely careful throughout the exercise. In fact more harm came to us than to the lizard.
In the end we took a plethora of pictures with the help of the Vedemahattaya's son before releasing the relieved lizard back into the wild. One more member of Sri Lanka's reptile fauna had been recorded and photographed by us. Steve Irwin, here we come.