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I sat down next to our in - house naturalist Ajantha. His eyes were glued to some pages of a mouldy looking book. I didn't want to disturb him, but I know that he is always up for a small chat.

- I forgot it outside in the rain two weeks ago he explains stroking the pages of his book. It's a precious one so I'm glad I managed to rescue it.

- What is it?

- 20000 secrets of TEA by Victoria Zak. I'm also reading this one. Ajantha passes me a book about Herbal Defense by Robyn Landys.

- So, how did you get into herbal medicine?

- When my siblings and I were ill in our childhood our grandfather used to treat us with herbs from the garden. That's how we first learned about the medicinal value of plants. The first time I practised herbal medication on myself for a serious cause was in my early 20s. I had got bitten by a cobra during a snake rescue.

He shows me his right hand. I had seen the scar before and let my imagination run, not knowing though how close I was to the true story.

- Within an hour, he continued, I got hold of the anti-venom which was enough to neutralize the poison. I was admitted to hospital, but after a week of treatment the wound had got worse and the infection had spread to my whole arm. I secretly took a blood test to confirm that I was not responding to the antibiotics and as the doctors started talking about amputation I decided to flee the scene and try my hand on herbal treatment. By then my arm was smelling rotten. Once a day I started applying ripe papaya to my wound and already after the first day it had turned pink. A week later the infection was gone.

- Have you ever attended a snake rescue after this incident?

- Yes, many times. I have lived in various places in Sri Lanka and as I arrive in a village, people quickly get to know that I do snake rescues, so naturally they come looking for me when they have an unwanted visitor.

- Now that you are in Kalpitiya, what does your day look like?

- I start every morning with yoga. After that each day turns out different, but I always try to document all wildlife that I encounter. I have a big interest in photography and I keep recording the surrounding wildlife, mainly birds and sea mammals.

Ajantha joined The Rascals team a couple of months ago. Now we are proud to have our very own Attenborough on site! Ajantha arranges guided birdwatching tours, dolphin and whale watching tours and Wilpattu National Park safaris, perfect for the day off from kitesurfing. He holds a sea of knowledge and he loves to share it!

On our EXPLORE page you can find out more about the excursions that Ajantha holds.

Ajantha has done over 1000 snake rescues in his life

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