My sundried vegetables are the best! – In the enchanting old village of Chingliao, near Chiayi, south-western Taiwan, Judy and I met this elderly woman, who was selling dried vegetables. When Judy remarked that they were a bit expensive, she pointed out that they had been dried in the sun, and that they were so good that we would surely come back for more! As it later turned out, they were really tasty, but, unfortunately, Chingliao is far from where we live. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Hindu Brahmin, Varanasi, India. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Courting pair of Australian gannet, Muriwai Beach, New Zealand. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Female dromedaries (Camelus dromedarius) are often affectionate towards each other. – Thar Desert, Rajasthan, India. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)









Young man, Kandahar. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



The Hazara partly descend from immigrating Mongolians or Central Asian Turks, who settled in Afghanistan around the 1200s. Their facial features, as well as part of their culture and language, differ from those of other Afghani tribes. Most Hazara are Shi’a Muslims, as opposed to other tribes of the country, who are mainly Sunni.

The origin of these factions of Islam is described on the page Travel episodes – Asia & Europe 1975: Long journey home.



Hazara boy, Kandahar. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)







Pictures from Tibet are shown separately under ‘Tibet’.


The vast majority of Chinese are Han Chinese, constituting more than 90% of the population of China, besides a vast number, who have emigrated to other countries. Officially, the Chinese government recognizes 55 ethnic minority groups within Chinese territories, comprising c. 8.5% of the population.

A number of pictures, depicting Chinese tribal peoples, may be studied on the page People: Chinese minorities.



Chinese biologist Li Ching, showing a gorgeous flower of Magnolia liliflora, which we observed on the Suei Gau Fong Mountain, Guizhou Province. – Our adventures with Li Ching are related on the page Travel episodes – China 2009: Among black-necked cranes. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Mother and son with rhododendron flowers, Wumeng Shan Mountains, Guizhou Province. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Grimy little girl, enjoying a bottle of water, Guizhou Province. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



The Yunnan Province of south-western China is home to at least 25 tribal peoples, who often wear very colourful traditional dresses.



Wearing traditional dress, this young woman of the Bai minority is posing for tourists in the city of Dali, Yunnan Province. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



An elderly woman of the Nakhi people (also called Naxi), clad in traditional dress, performs a dance in the town of Lijiang. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)







Danes, Swedes, and Norwegians are historically linked to the Norse Vikings, seafarers of Germanic origin, whose conquests and commercial travels during the Viking Age (c. 793–1066) are legendary. Since then, immigration and numerous invasions have had the effect that the Nordic peoples today are of mixed descent, as is evident from the collection of pictures below.



Twelve-year-old girl and young man, both of the blond Nordic type. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



A small percentage of Nordic peoples have red hair or beard. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Young man, enjoying a pipe of tobacco among autumn leaves of beech (Fagus sylvatica), Jutland. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Little boys, Jutland. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Two elderly men, Jutland. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)







Ethiopia is home to a multitude of peoples, mainly of Hamitic origin, the largest of which are the Amhara, counting about 20 million, or c. 27% of the country’s population. The pictures below show people from various regions of this vast country. Other pictures may be seen in the gallery at People: Tribals of Ethiopia.



Girl with braids, Negelle. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Girl, Lalibela. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Elderly Amharic at a market in the town of Kayet. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Girl with a peculiar hairstyle, Nechisar National Park. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)







Paris is home to a wealth of people of multiple ethnic descent, as seen from the pictures below, showing kindergarten children.



(Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)







The vast Indian Subcontinent is home to a multitude of peoples of Aryan, Dravidian, or Austronesian origin. A collection of pictures below shows a variety of Indian people.



Dravidian Hindu women in the town of Karwar, Karnataka, South India. The mark on their forehead, called tika, indicates their status as married women. Multi-coloured tika marks, as the one on the forehead of the woman in the lower picture, are usually applied only during Hindu festivals. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



This elderly man in Udaipur, Rajasthan, greeted me with a friendly smile. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Elderly Muslim, Pahalgam, Kashmir. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Aboriginals of India are small people, many of Australoid descent, which lived in the forests for thousands of years. When the Dravidians, and later the Aryans, invaded India, these tribal peoples were driven into remote areas. Many still live in the states of Odisha (Orissa), Chattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh.

Unfortunately, the culture and way of living of these peoples are rapidly disintegrating, and many have lost their land to entrepreneurs, who extract coal, iron and other minerals from it. Owners of paper factories have persuaded several of the tribes to plant eucalyptus trees on their land, promising these people a large outcome from these trees. However, they omit to inform them that eucalyptus trees dry out the soil, often leading to scarcity of water in areas, which were previously covered in lush forest.

When the pictures below were taken in 1997, many tribal peoples had still preserved part of their traditional ways.



Young Sabara mother with her infant son, Sabari River, Odisha. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Sabara girl near the Sabari River. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Paraja tribal vendor at a market in the town of Kotpad, Odisha. Note the tattoo on her arm. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Many people in the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand are Hindus of Caucasian origin, who migrated here from Rajasthan hundreds of years ago. You may read more about this area on the pages Travel episodes – India 2008: Mountain goats and frozen flowers, and Plants – Plant hunting in the Himalaya: Abode of the deodar.



Young woman from the town of Gushaini, Tirthan Valley, Himachal Pradesh. The red mark between her eyebrows, called a tika, indicates her status as a married woman. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



This girl from the village of Agora, Asi Ganga Valley, Uttarakhand, has collected wild ferns in the forest to be used for her family’s lunch. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



I met this Dravidian holy Hindu man, a saddhu, in the great Minakshi Temple in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India. Saddhus are dealt with in depth on the page Religion: Hinduism. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



The vast Thar Desert stretches across the state of Rajasthan, north-western India, and further west into Pakistan. The main part of this desert is level sand or gravel plains with scattered bushes and trees. This fascinating area is presented in detail on the page Travel episodes – India 2003: Camel safari in the Thar Desert.



Muslim women from the village of Bambara in the heart of the Thar Desert, near the Pakistani border. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Formerly, Ladakh was a province in the Indian State Jammu and Kashmir. However, there was a huge resistance in the population against this arrangement, as the Ladakhis, justly, felt that they were treated unfairly by the Muslim government in Srinagar. The people and language of Ladakh are of Tibetan origin, and the dominating religion is Lama Buddhism.

The Indian government has proclaimed that from October 31, 2019, Ladakh constitutes a Union Territory, ruled by the central government in Delhi.

In former days, among the Ladakhi population, the will to share was widespread. There was a common responsibility to keep the water courses clean, as their water was utilized in the households. At harvest time, everybody participated in helping each other. These sympathetic features largely vanished, when the area was opened to tourism in 1972. Today, a common consumer capitalism is prevailing, at least in the cities.



Ladakhi woman, clad in traditional dress, Leh. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Near Umlung, Markha Valley, I encountered this elderly man, carrying his granddaughter on his back. In Ladakh, grandparents are highly respected, and they often participate in the upbringing of their grandchildren. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Ladakhi boy, Markha Valley. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



This shaman from the Markha Valley is wearing the typical high felt hat of the area, and a rosary with 108 beads, made from plant seeds. (108 is a sacred number to Buddhists.) Officially, Ladakhi shamans are Buddhists, but their practice contains many traces from Bon, the pre-Buddhist religion of Central Asia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)


This Ladakhi woman from Chyskylmo is wearing two neclaces with corals and other semi-precious stones. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Between 600 and 1500 A.D., Rajasthan – in those days called Rajputana – was divided among numerous rivalling Hindu kingdoms, ruled by Rajputs (‘Sons of Rajas’). They managed to persuade Brahmins (Hindu priests) to produce genealogical tables, which connected them with the sun, the moon, and the Hindu god of fire, Agni.

These people were born warriors, divided into 36 royal clans. Because of their internal rivalries, each Rajput king ordered his people to build forts and other strongholds to protect himself and his nobles against enemies. Naturally, nobody worried about the safety of the common people.

You may read more about Rajputs on the page Travel episodes – India 1986: “His name is Muhammed!”



Like most men in Rajasthan, this man in Jodhpur is wearing a turban. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



This little Hindu girl in the city of Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, is wearing her finest dress, and a red ribbon adorns her hair. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Muslim shoemaker, Jaipur, Rajasthan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Little Hindu girl in the village of Seventri, Rajasthan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Holi is a Hindu spring festival, celebrating the god Krishna, and the victory of good over evil – a gay festival, in which people, regardless of caste, pelt each other with red, yellow, purple, or green powder, or with water, dyed with powder. For this reason, Holi has been dubbed The Festival of Colours.

My own ‘colourful’ adventures during Holi are related on the page Travel episodes – India 1991: Attending Hindu festivals in Rajasthan.



In Charbhuja, Rajasthan, where these pictures were taken, Holi lasts no less than 15 days. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



The Gujjar-Bakarwals are a tribe of pastoral Muslim nomads, who live in the Indian Himalaya. Although the Rajaji area in Uttarakhand was declared a national park in 1993, these people still live here. Foresters have pointed out that they should be banned from grazing their animals in the park, but, ironically, they seem to benefit wildlife here, as they keep poachers away from the area. For instance, the number of wild Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) in the park has increased in later years. The Gujjars themselves do not harm wildlife, as they are vegetarians.



Gujjar-Bakarwal man, Uttarakhand. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Tamils are a people of South India, numbering around 76 million, thus being the largest Dravidian people. They constitute about 6% of the population in India, 15% in Sri Lanka, 6% in Mauritius, 7% in Malaysia, and 5% in Singapore.



Tamil children, Valparai, West Ghats, Tamil Nadu (top), and Tarangambadi (Tranquebar), Tamil Nadu. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Hindu beggar with immaculately combed hair and beard, Varanasi, India. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



This beggar in Varanasi is wearing a huge turban and is clad in several layers of clothes, as a protection against the winter cold on the northern plains. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)







Indonesia is home to a multitude of peoples of Austronesian, Malayan, or Melanesian origin. A collection of pictures below shows a variety of people in this vast archipelago.



The front teeth of this young Muslim woman in the town of Sapé, Sumbawa, have been filed down, probably an ideal of beauty on this island. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



This Minangkabau boy has been sprayed with mud from working in a paddyfield, Kotubaru, Sumatra. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Young man from Java. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



The headdress of this Muslim woman on the island of Lombok is a beautifully folded towel. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Young seaman in a local type of sailboat, east of Sumbawa. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



During a hike up the volcano Gunung Rinjani, situated on the island of Lombok, our cook Sutardi has collected wild ferns to be used in our evening meal. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Young man, Medan, Sumatra. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



The Batak are a group of closely related Austronesian peoples, including the Karo, Pakpak, Simalungun, Toba, Angkola, and Mandailing, who live in a large area of northern Sumatra. The pictures below were taken in the area around Lake Toba in 1975.

Other pictures, depicting Batak people, may be seen on several other pages on this website, including People: Children around the world, and Culture: Musicians.



(Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)







The Lur are a people who live in the Zagros Mountains in south-western Iran. In 1973, Arne Koch Christoffersen and I spent about six weeks in this area, staying for three weeks in the house of Muhammed, headman of a village name Mirabad. Our, at times, rather bizarre adventures with Muhammed are related on the page Travel episodes – Iran 1973: In the mountains of Luristan.



Lur man, wearing the typical felt cap of the area. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Maria, 16-year-old daughter of Muhammed. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Mamakru, 12-year-old son of Muhammed. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)








Arab, enjoying his meal, southern Iraq. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Children in the village of Hamar, southern Iraq. It is often the duty of Arabian girls, however young, to take care of a smaller sibling. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Boy from the town of Dawaya, southern Iraq. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Young man, Chibayish, southern Iraq. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



For thousands of years, a huge marsh area in southern Iraq, between the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers, was the home of the Madan tribe, whose way of life was completely adapted to the wet habitat. They moved about in canoes, built their reed houses on islets, and made a living by hunting and fishing, growing rice, and raising water buffaloes.

The regime of Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti (1979-2003) put an end to their way of life by draining the marshes, as a retaliation for the Madan siding with the Americans during the First Gulf War (1990-1991).

This interesting wetland is presented in detail on the pages Travel episodes – Iraq 1973: The hospitable mudir, and Iraq 1973: Dust storm and sheep’s head.



This picture of a Madan father and son was taken in 1977, prior to the destruction of this area. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)







The Kikuyu are a Bantu people, native to Kenya. Numbering about 7 million, they account for about 17% of the total population in the country.



Young Kikuyu men, Lake Naivasha (top) and Nyeri. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



The Kalenjin are a group of Southern Nilotic peoples, numbering around 6.3 million, who live in East Africa, mainly in the Rift Valley area in Kenya. One of the tribes is the Pokot, numbering around 900,000 people. They live in western Kenya and eastern Uganda.



Pokot boy, Cherangani Hills. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)







The Kyrgyz people (also Kyrghyz or Kirghiz) are a Turkic ethnic group, believed to have descended from the Yenisei Kyrgyz, who originated in central Siberia, around the Yenisei River. Later, this nomadic people spread to large parts of Central Asia, especially to the area, which is today called Kyrgyzstan.

Parts of their land were ceded by the Chinese to the Russian Empire in 1876. Following the Russian revolution in 1919, Soviets took control of the Kyrgyz region, and the Kara-Kyrgyz Autonomous Oblast was created within the Soviet Union. In 1936, a Soviet Republic, named Kirgizskaya Sovetskaya Sotsialisticheskaya Respublika, was established.

As a result of the Russian dominance, a large number of Russians emigrated to the area, and by 1989 they numbered almost one million. Following the breakdown of the Soviet Union, Kyrgyzstan gained independence in 1991, and the majority of Russians in the country returned to Russia.

Today, the Kyrgyz number about 5 million, of which 4.5 million live in Kyrgyzstan. There are about 350,000 Russians in the country.



In the summertime, a small number of Kyrgyz still live a semi-nomadic life. These pictures show an elderly couple, photographed in the Karakol Valley, Tien Shan Mountains. Note the man’s typical felt hat. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Islamic mullah (priest) in the city of Karakol, explaining principles of Islam. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Kyrgyz woman with her grandchildren at a market, Karakol. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



This elderly Russian woman is working as a tourist guide in Karakol. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)







Lake Malawi is the third-largest lake in Africa, 575 km long and up to 85 km wide, covering an area of c. 23,000 km2. The majority of the population of this area are various Bantu tribes, including the Achewa, who live around the south-western corner of the lake.

My adventures on board a ferry on this lake are related on the page Travel episodes – Malawi 1997: A three-day ferry cruise on Lake Malawi.



Achewa boy, swimming near Cape Maclear in the south-western corner of the lake. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Achewa children from the village of Chembe. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)







The indigenous population of Borneo is a multitude of Malayan tribes, known by the common name Dayaks. My visit to one of these peoples, the Punan, is related on the page Travel episodes – Borneo 1975: Canoe trip with Punan tribals.



Elderly men of the Kayan tribe, Rajang River, Sarawak. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Dayak boys in the village of Belaga, Sarawak. One has a fancy hairstyle. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Punan elders, Sarawak. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Dayak woman, Belaga, Sarawak. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Little Malay girl on board a ferry, Tatau River, Sarawak. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Han Chinese boy, Sarawak. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)







In Myanmar, a white paste, called thanaka, is made from branches of the orange jessamine tree (Murraya paniculata). This paste is applied to the face of women and children to protect the skin against the sun. It also makes the skin smooth.



Children in central Myanmar with thanaka paste applied to their face. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)







The majority of the population of Namibia are various Bantu peoples, of which the largest is the Ovambo, accounting for around half of the population. Other significant groups are Kavango, Herero, Damara, and Caprivi.

The fantastic natural features of Namibia are described on the page Countries and places: Namibia – a desert country.



Bantu women with semi-precious stones, Spitzkoppe. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)







Nepal is home to a multitude of peoples of Mongoloid, Aryan, and mixed origin.



When I wanted to photograph these little girls in the Marsyangdi Valley, Annapurna, central Nepal, one of them made a face to make fun of me. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Little boys, Sauraha, southern Nepal. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Girl, Pati Bhanjyang, Helambu. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



About 500 years ago, the Sherpa, a Tibetan tribe of pastoral nomads, migrated south and settled in several separate areas: Langtang, Helambu, Solu-Khumbu, and Arun Valley in Nepal, and Darjiling in India. In Tibetan, sherpa means ‘a person from the East’, relating to the fact that the Sherpa originated in eastern Tibet. Today, they number about 150,000, and they still speak a Tibetan dialect.

The Sherpa are Lama Buddhists, mainly of the Nyingma-pa School (also called ‘red-hats’, because the high lamas of this sect wear red hoods). Women have a very high status among the Sherpa, and usually weddings are not arranged by the parents. Sherpas love to eat meat, but their Buddhist religion condemns killing of any creature, so the slaughtering is done by non-Buddhist Tibetans. Only domestic animals are eaten, and wildlife in Sherpa areas is generally left in peace.

Among Westerners, the Sherpa are mainly known as excellent guides and climbers on mountaineering expeditions, and many Sherpas have scaled Sagarmatha (Mount Everest) several times. Today, numerous Sherpas work in the tourist industry.



Despite having had an obviously strenuous life, this old Sherpa woman in the Arun Valley has aged with grace. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Sherpa woman, displaying her goods for sale on the weekly Saturday market, Namche Bazaar, Khumbu, eastern Nepal. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



This Sherpa woman, visiting the market in Namche Bazaar, is wearing a string around her neck with a talisman and two pieces of coral. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



During the trekking seasons in spring and autumn, this young Sherpa girl from the Khumbu region can easily find work as a porter for tourists. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Following the Chinese invasion of Tibet in the 1950s, thousands of Tibetans fled to Nepal and India. Today, they constitute a very prominent part of the population in Nepal.



During Losar, the Tibetan New Year, this old Tibetan who wears an embroidered hat, visits the Bodhnath Stupa in Kathmandu. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



The common greeting in most parts of Nepal is Namaste, which means something like ‘I salute the divinity in you.’ While greeting, you cup your hands in front of your face or chest.



Namaste! These sweet little children were photographed in the village of Betrawati, Trisuli Valley, central Nepal. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Children in the Annapurna area, central Nepal. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



A Nepali man of Caucasion heritage visits the weekly Saturday market in the village of Namche Bazaar, Khumbu, eastern Nepal. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)







The Tuaregs, also known by various other names, including Kel Tamasheq, Imuhagh, Imazighen, or Itargiyen, are a large group of Berber peoples, living in the western half of the Sahara Desert, south to Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso. They have often been called the Blue People, because they dye their clothes with indigo, the blue colour of which stains their skin.



I met this Tuareg south of the town of Arlit. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)







Baluchistan, western Pakistan, is famous for its proud and independent population – and also for its gangs of bandits. However, during our stay in the area in 1978, we met only friendly and helpful people.

Our adventures in Baluchistan are described on the page Travel episodes – Pakistan 1978: Encounter with robbers.



This Baluchi, wearing a typical headcloth, approached us to ask for water. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Peasant boys, Kot Sabzal, Sind. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)







The Ifugao and the Bontoc are two out of a dozen Malayan tribes, who inhabit northern Luzon, Philippines. At least 2,000 years ago, these tribes constructed fantastic terraced fields on the mountain slopes, irrigated through an advanced system of canals. On these terraces, they grow their main staple, rice, supplied with sweet potatoes, taro, and various vegetables. They also raise chickens and black pigs, and the men hunt wild animals in the jungle.

My adventures among the Ifugao are described on the page Travel episodes – Philippines 1984: Shamanism among Ifugao tribals.



This Ifugao quenches his thirst by drinking the sap from a forest liana. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Old Ifugao shaman in the village of Bocos, near Banawe, Luzon. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Bontoc woman, dancing during wedding celebrations in the village of Sagada, Luzon. Her hair is adorned with pearls. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Bontoc man, Sagada. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Bontoc man, smoking a huge pipe, Sagada. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Old Bontoc tribal, between Bontoc and Tococan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Sri Lanka


Veddas are the aboriginal people of Sri Lanka, thought to be of mixed Negrito and Australoid origin. They were driven far into the jungles by invading Sinhalese, a people from North India, who, in the 6th Century B.C., conquered most of Sri Lanka, creating an advanced civilization, comprising several competing kingdoms. The various peoples of Sri Lanka are presented on the page Travel episodes – Sri Lanka 1974: Among the Veddas.



Vedda from the village of Pollebedda, south of Maha Oya, eastern Sri Lanka. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Vedda children, Polebedda. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Sinhalese of various age, Panadura, southern Sri Lanka. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Sinhalese girl, weaving, Hikkaduwa. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Sinhalese fishermen on the island of Karativu, near Kalpittiya. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Sinhalese woman, Anuradhapura. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Sinhalese soldiers on duty in Jaffna. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Sinhalese beauties of various age. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



This old fisherman, whom I met at Lake Bolgoda, south-western Sri Lanka, has lost all his fingers when fishing with dynamite, a common, but illegal practice. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Little Sinhalese girl, Ohiya. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Tamils in Sri Lanka descend from residents of the former Jaffna Kingdom in the northern part of the island, and from Vannimai chieftaincies in the eastern part. Scientific evidence shows that Tamils have a very long history in Sri Lanka, living on the island since at least around the 2nd Century B.C.



Old Tamil with a fancy hairstyle, Dambulla. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)







A majority of the Taiwanese practice a religion, which is a peculiar blend of Buddhism and Daoism, described on the page Religion: Daoism in Taiwan. Numerous pictures, depicting their artwork, is shown on the pages Culture: Folk art of Taiwan, and Culture: Tribal art of Taiwan.



Fishermen, Siao Liouchou Island, southern Taiwan. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Jiang Guo-chin enjoys an icecream. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



This female acrobat, performing in the city of Taichung, is dressed as a monkey. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



In Taiwan, people, dressed as devils, or Bajiajiang, often practice kung-fu during Daoist parades. As a rule, Daoists do not regard these participants as regular people, but rather as persons being possessed by the various gods or spirits.



During Daoist parades, these young men are dressed as Bajiajiang. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



During a performance in Taichung, the face of this female member of the Chio-Tian Folk Drums & Arts Troupe is decorated as a Bajiajiang. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



During a Daoist parade in the city of Taichung, women with flower baskets perform a dance in front of a shop, supposedly bringing prosperity to the owner. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Dressed in temple outfit, these elderly men on Siao Liouchou Island, southern Taiwan, participate in the Daoist Boat Burning Festival, honouring the God of Plague, Wang-yeh. – This festival is described in depth on the page Religion: Daoism in Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



This little boy covers his ears, when fireworks explode during a Daoist festival in honour of the Mother Goddess Mazu, celebrated in the town of Pitou. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Elderly couple, Wufong, south of Taichung. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Taiwan is home to a multitude of tribes of Malayan origin, who inhabited this island long before the invasion of Chinese peoples. Today, these indigenous peoples are numbering about 600,000 persons, or c. 2.5% of the island’s population. They include the Amis, who number about 180,000, living mainly in the lowlands along the east coast, and the Bunun, counting about 50,000 people, who mainly live in the mountains in the central part of the island.

The pictures below are from a tribal fair, which took place in the village of Dilih, central Taiwan.



Woman of the Amis tribe, wearing pearl ornaments. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



This Bunun man in Dilih is wearing a woven headband, adorned with the horns of a Reeves’ muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi ssp. micrurus). In former days, aboriginals of Taiwan were keen hunters. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Bunun woman, wearing pearl ornaments, Dilih. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Bunun girl, Dilih. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)








Friendly school teacher on the island of Kwale. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)








Young man, Bangkok. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)







I 1987, I spent several weeks in Tibet, a harsh land with a delightful people. My at times rather grotesque adventures in this enchanting country are related on the page Travel episodes – Tibet 1987: Tibetan summer.

In later years, a common policy of the Chinese government is to ‘Mandarinize’ autonomous areas by settling a huge number of Han Chinese in these areas. Today, more Han than Tibetans live in Tibet, and the cities have changed from being typically Tibetan, with beautiful old houses, to being typically Chinese, with ugly concrete buildings. Naturally, any attempt from the Tibetans to oppose this policy, is turned down by the Chinese government, who claim that the Tibetans constitute a minority. In their own country, at that!



Men of the Khampa tribe, working as porters in the town of Khasa (Zhangmu). Men of this people often adorn their hair with bits of red cloth. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



This Tibetan boy from Shigatse wears a natural ’scarf’ around his neck – dirt! (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Tibetan boy from the town of Gyantse. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



This Han Chinese boy in Shigatse is carrying his younger brother on his back. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)







The majority of the population of Turkey are Turks, a Turkic people of Central Asian descent, who migrated to present-day Turkey from the 11th Century onward.



In former days, men in rural areas of Turkey were all wearing a distinct cap. These pictures were taken in 1973, and today this cap is a much rarer sight. – Samsun, on the Black Sea coast (top), and Taurus mountains, southern Turkey. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



At Pamukkale, western Turkey, water, containing dissolved calcium bicarbonate, is running down a slope over a wide area, where the mineral is deposited, and, over time, has formed numerous bluish-white terraces, some dry, some containing ponds with shallow water.



This boy is enjoying a shower in a natural pond on a terrace with deposited calcium bicarbonate, Pamukkale. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



The Kurds are a proud people, whose language is Indo-European, related to Iranian. Previously, Kurdish men were wearing their traditional dress – a jacket and baggy trousers, whereas most women wore a black dress and a scarf. Across the shoulder, many men carried a strap with cartridges for their rifles.

In former times, a small part of Kurds were sedentary farmers, whereas the majority were nomads, who, with their herds of sheep and goats, roamed the mountains of eastern Turkey, north-eastern Syria, northern Iraq, north-western Iran, and the adjacent parts of the Caucasus. Farmers and nomads would benefit from each other, as much trading took place between them. Cereals and vegetables were exchanged for mutton, felt, and wool. Today, however, almost all Kurds are sedentary.

The sad fate of the Kurds is described on the page Travel episodes – Iran & Turkey 1973: “Kurdistan! Bum-bum-zip!”



This Kurdish man is from the town of Silvan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)







The majority of the population in Zambia are various Bantu peoples. The pictures below show two of these tribes from the northernmost part of the country, the Unga and the Bena Kabende. The Unga, who live in the great Bangweulu Swamps, are presented in detail on the page Countries and places: Bangweulu – where water meets the sky, and other pictures, depicting Bena Kabende people, are shown on the page People: Women are more than half of the world.



Three Unga women. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Young Bena Kabende mother, Manokola. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Bena Kabende youngsters, Samfya. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)







The Shona are a Bantu people, living mainly in Zimbabwe, where they form the vast majority of the population, counting at least 11 million.



Shona police officer, Harare, Zimbabwe. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)








Agamidae Agamas


Calotes calotes Southern green forest lizard
This large agamid lives in forests of Sri Lanka and in montane areas of South India. It may measure up to 65 cm in length and is largely of a bright green colour. In the breeding season, however, the male develops a bright red head and throat.

A close relative, Calotes versicolor, is described on the page Animals: Himalayan animals.



Southern green forest lizard, Sinharaja Forest Reserve, Sri Lanka. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Otocryptis wiegmanni Brown-patched kangaroo lizard
This small agamid is endemic to Sri Lanka, living in forests of the wet zone and lower mountains, up to an altitude of 1,300 m. The specific name was given in honour of German herpetologist Arend Friedrich August Wiegmann (1802-1841), who described numerous species of reptiles, 55 of which are still considered valid, and he also described several new species of amphibians.



Brown-patched kangaroo lizard, Sinharaja Forest Reserve, south-western Sri Lanka. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Stellagama stellio Starred agama
Also known by a number of other names, including rough-tailed rock agama, hardun, and painted dragon, the starred agama is found from western and southern Turkey southwards through Syria and north-western Iraq to southern Jordan, north-western Saudi Arabia, and the Sinai Peninsula, on a number of islands along the west coast of Turkey, on Cyprus, in an area of Greek Macedonia, and on the island of Corfu. It has also been introduced to Malta.

This animal, which may attain a length of up to 35 cm, used to be included in the large genus Agama, but is now the single species in the genus Stellagama. However, it may constitute a species complex and may be split into several species in the future. The generic name is from the Latin stella (‘star’), referring to its many spots.



Male starred agama, Pergamon, Turkey. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Bovidae Cattle, antelope, etc.
All species of antelope below are described in depth on the page Animals – Mammals: Antelopes.


Aepyceros melampus Impala



Male impala, Tarangire National Park, Tanzania. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Antidorcas marsupialis Springbok



Springbok, Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, South Africa. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Bos taurus Cattle


As their name implies, Scottish Highland cattle originated in the Scottish Highlands, or maybe in the Outer Hebrides, first mentioned in the 6th Century A.D. In Scots, this breed is called Heilan coo, a name of Norse origin, meaning ‘highland cow’. They are characterized by their long horns and wavy coat, which comes in a variety of colours, including red, ginger, black, dun, yellow, white, or grey. This long coat allows them to spend the harsh Scottish winter outdoors. They are raised primarily for their meat, which is prized for its low content of cholesterol, and also for the milk, which generally has a very high butterfat content.

Today, Scottish Highland cattle is found in many countries around the world.



Scottish Highland cattle, Öland, Sweden. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Connochaetes taurinus Blue wildebeest



Blue wildebeest, Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Kobus ellipsiprymnus Waterbuck



Male Defassa waterbuck, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Raphicerus campestris Steenbok



Feeding female steenbok, Etosha National Park, Namibia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Tragelaphus scriptus Bushbuck



Female bushbuck, Victoria Falls National Park, Zimbabwe. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Camelidae Camels


Camelus dromedarius Dromedary, one-humped camel
This species is extinct in the wild, but is widely distributed as a domestic animal, from India across the Middle East to the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt, Somalia, and northern Kenya. It was probably first domesticated in Somalia or southern Arabia, around 3000 B.C.

The dromedary is described in detail on the page Animals: Animals as servants of Man.



Dromedary, chewing the cud, Thar Desert, Rajasthan, India. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Canidae Dog family


Canis lupus ssp. familiaris Domestic dog
The domestication of the dog and its association with Man, is described in detail on the page Animals: Animals as servants of Man.



This dog in Guiyang, Guizhou Province, China, may have some Tibetan spaniel genes, and probably also some Pekingese, due to its very prominent lower jaw. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



I asked the owner of this little terrier in Taichung, Taiwan, why it was wearing sunglasses. She said that it was to prevent the dog from getting cataract. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



The short-legged dachshund was developed to chase foxes and badgers out of their dens, for the hunter to shoot them. In America, they have also been used to chase prairie dogs out of their dens. This breed comes in three forms: smooth-coated, long-haired, and wire-haired.



Wire-haired dachshund, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



The commonest type of stray dogs in Taiwan, generally called Taiwan dogs, or sometimes Takasago dogs, are a result of the indigenous Formosan hunting dogs interbreeding with imported dog types. Taiwan dogs are usually black or brown, or a mixture of the two.


During Chinese New Year, a red scarf has been tied around the neck of the c. 12-week-old Taiwan dog below. A red envelope, on which is written wang-wang, has been fastened to it. The red colour of the envelope, as well as the text, denotes well-wishing. At the same time, wang-wang is an imitation of a dog’s barking.



(Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Lycaon pictus African hunting dog
This fascinating animal is described in depth on the page Animals – Mammals: Hunting dogs – nomads of the savanna.



Hunting dogs are formidable hunters, with powerful jaws and long legs. They are able to run at 60 km/hour. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Cercopithecidae Old World monkeys
The species below are all described in depth on the page Animals – Mammals: Monkeys and apes.


Macaca fascicularis Long-tailed macaque



Long-tailed macaque, Wenara Wana Temple (popularly called ‘Monkey Forest’), Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Macaca mulatta Rhesus monkey



This rhesus monkey was photographed at the Buddhist temple Swayambhunath, Kathmandu, Nepal, where two troops of these monkeys live. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Piliocolobus kirkii Zanzibar red colobus



This Zanzibar red colobus is feeding on leaves of beach almond (Terminalia catappa), Zanzibar. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Semnopithecus schistaceus Nepal langur, pale-armed langur



The Nepal langur is easily identified by its luxurious, pale grey fur and the large white ruff around its jet-black face. These two were photographed near Lake Dodi Tal, Asi Ganga Valley, Uttarakhand. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Cervidae Deer


Rusa unicolor Sambar deer
This large deer is described on the page Animals – Mammals: Deer.



In Maha Eliya Thenna National Park (Horton Plains), central Sri Lanka, sambar deer have become accustomed to tourists, as this one, which I could approach to within 10 metres. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Equidae Horses


Equus ferus ssp. caballus Domestic horse
In Europe, the true wild horse, or tarpan (Equus ferus ssp. ferus), was hunted to extinction, and the last one died in a Russian zoo in 1909. Another subspecies, Przewalski’s horse (E. ferus ssp. przewalskii), named after Russian geographer and explorer Nikolai Przewalski (1839-1888), only survived as scattered herds on the vast grass steppes in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia. Attempts have been made to recreate the tarpan by crossing Przewalski’s horses with various ancient, primitive types of domestic horses, resulting in tarpan-like horses, such as the Konik horse. Today, herds of these ‘primitive’ horses have been released various places in Europe.

The domestication of wild horses is described on the page Animals: Animals as servants of Man.



The Konik horse resembles the extinct tarpan, apart from the long mane. A feral population of these horses live in the nature reserve Oostvardersplassen, Flevoland, Holland, where this picture was taken. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




As its name implies, the Belgian draft horse originates in Belgium. It is one of the strongest of the heavy horse breeds.



Portraits of Belgian horses, Bornholm, Denmark. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Equus quagga Plains zebra
Previously, plains zebras in Namibia were regarded as a distinct subspecies, antiquorum. However, recent studies have revealed that it is genetically identical to Burchell’s zebra, subspecies burchelli, which was once regarded as extinct. As subspecies burchelli was described prior to antiquorum, the former name takes precedence. Thus, the plains zebras of Namibia are now called Equus quagga ssp. burchelli. Following the extermination of the quagga, ssp. quagga, in the late 1800s, Burchell’s zebra is today the least striped surviving subspecies.



Burchell’s zebra foal, Etosha National Park, Namibia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Felidae Cats


Acinonyx jubatus Cheetah
The fastest land mammal on Earth, during hunts often running at speeds of up to 64 km/h, being able to accelerate up to 112 km/h on short distances. Because of this ability, the cheetah was tamed as early as the 16th Century B.C. in Egypt, and later also in India, to be used for hunting.

This species mainly inhabits savanna, but is also found in various types of open forest. Four subspecies are currently recognized. The nominate jubatus occurs from Uganda and Kenya southwards through eastern and southern Africa to Namibia and South Africa. It has been exterminated in Zaire, Rwanda, and Burundi. The population is estimated at around 5,000 individuals.

Subspecies soemmeringii is restricted to north-eastern Africa, occurring in South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Eritrea.

With a total population estimated at less than 250 individuals, subspecies hecki is listed as critically endangered by the IUCN. It has a scattered occurrence of tiny populations in southern Algeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Benin.

Today, the Asiatic cheetah, subspecies venaticus, is confined to Iran. It is classified as critically endangered by the IUCN, as the total population in 2017 was estimated at fewer than 50 individuals, scattered over the central plateau of Iran. In former times, this subspecies was distributed from the Arabian Peninsula and Turkey eastwards to Central Asia and India.

By 2016, the total cheetah population was estimated at around 7,100 individuals in the wild. Its decline is caused by loss of habitat, poaching for the illegal pet trade, and conflict with humans.

The generic name is derived from the Greek akinitos (‘motionless’) and onyx (‘nail’ or ‘hoof’), thus ‘motionless nails’, referring to the fact that the cheetah, unlike other cats, is unable to retract its claws. The specific name is from the Latin iuba (‘mane’ or ‘crest’) and‎ atus (‘like’), thus ‘having a mane-like crest’, referring to the long mane of cheetah kittens below the age of 3 months. This mane is a means of camouflage, when the kittens are left in dense cover by their mother, when she goes hunting. The name cheetah is derived from the Sanskrit citra, meaning ‘variegated’, ‘spotted’, or ‘speckled’.



Resting cheetah, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Felis catus Domestic cat
The domestic cat is presented in depth on the page Animals: Animals as servants of Man.



Kittens, Funen, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Panthera leo Lion
Lions live in prides, consisting of females and young, and a single or several males. If there is more than one male, they are brothers or half-brothers. Even if they often don’t participate in a hunt, the stronger males will chase away lionesses and cubs from a prey, if it is not large enough to feed the entire pride.

The lion is unique among cats due to the male’s mane, a large growth of hair around the neck and down the chest, and often a little way down the back. The mane makes a male lion look larger than he actually is, without the disadvantage of a larger weight, which would require more food. A large mane is a signal to other males that here comes a powerful animal that shouldn’t be challenged, even if the challenging male is in fact larger than his opponent, but has a smaller mane. The mane also gives some protection during fights among males, for instance when stray males attempt to take over a pride.

The lion is described in detail on the page Animals: Lion – king of the savanna, and an unusual nightly encounter with lions is related on the page Travel episodes – Tanzania 1990: Lions in the camp.



Golden cat in golden grass. – Male lion, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



This male in Serengeti National Park has a huge mane. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Panthera pardus Leopard
This large cat has a very wide distribution, from Ussuriland in south-eastern Russia southwards through parts of China and Southeast Asia to Indonesia, and thence westwards through the Indian Subcontinent to the Middle East, and most of sub-Saharan Africa. It has adapted to a huge variety of habitats, from tropical jungles to semi-desert and mountains, and even farmland near villages.

More about leopards, including a terrible man-eater from northern India, is found on the page Animals – Mammals: The spotted killer.



Leopard, Chief’s Island, Okawango, Botswana. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Gruidae Cranes
Cranes are medium-sized to large birds, comprising 15 species, divided into two subfamilies, Balearicinae with two species of crowned cranes, and Gruinae with 13 species, divided into 4 or 5 genera, depending on authority.

The sandhill crane (Grus canadensis) is described on the page Animals – Birds: Sandhill cranes – a threat to breeding birds.


Balearica regulorum Grey crowned crane
Previously, this crane was regarded as being conspecific with the black crowned crane (B. pavonina), but is now regarded as a separate species with two subspecies, regulorum, which is distributed from Zambia and Angola southwards to South Africa, and gibbericeps, which is found from central Kenya and Uganda southwards to Zambia. It is the national bird of Uganda.

The grey crowned crane lives in savannas and river valleys, and also sometimes in agricultural land, provided there are accessible wetlands. Traditionally, some tribes have regarded this bird as sacred, and in many places it has adapted to living near people. It is mainly sedentary, but moves around in search of areas with recent precipitation. It often spends the night in trees.

During the last 50 years or so, this species has declined drastically, and the total population may now be as low as 25-30,000, with two thirds of this number in East Africa. The decline is caused by draining, conversion of savanna to agricultural lands, and lack of flooding due to construction of dams. East African populations are classified as near-threatened, whereas the South African population is stable.



Feeding grey crowned crane, Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Grus grus Eurasian or common crane
This is the most widely distributed crane species in the world, found from England eastwards across the entire Siberian taiga to northern Mongolia and China, with small isolated populations in southern Europe, Turkey, the Caucasus, and Tibet. Subspecies archibaldi from Turkey and the Caucasus was described scientifically as late as 2008. Formerly, eastern Asian populations were regarded as a separate subspecies, lilfordi, but today most authorities consider these birds as belonging to the nominate race.

With a total population of nearly 700,000, the Eurasian crane is one of the most numerous crane species, only surpassed by the sandhill crane (G. canadensis). In western Europe, breeding numbers have increased dramatically in several countries, including Sweden with 15,000 to 20,000 pairs, Germany with about 8.000 pairs, and Denmark with about 500 pairs. In 1998, the total number in Europe was estimated at 45,000 pairs, but this number has since increased significantly.



Eurasian crane, Hornborgasjön, Sweden. This lake is visited by up to 10,000 cranes in March-April, resting here on their way to their breeding grounds. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Otariidae Eared seals


Arctocephalus pusillus Brown fur seal
There are two widely separated populations of this seal, also known as Afro-Australian fur seal: the South African, or Cape, fur seal, subspecies pusillus, and the Australian fur seal, subspecies doriferus.

The Cape fur seal ranges along the southern coasts of Africa, from Ilha dos Tigres in southern Angola, along the Namibian coast to Algoa Bay in South Africa, whereas the Australian subspecies lives in south-eastern Australian waters, along the coasts of Tasmania, New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia, with the largest concentration in the Bass Strait.

The preferred breeding habitats of these seals are rocky islands, or pebble or boulder beaches. The population of the Cape fur seal is approximately 2 million, whereas that of the Australian fur seal is around 120,000. (Source: iucnredlist.org/details/2060/0)



Sleeping female Cape fur seal, Cape Cross, Namibia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Eumetopias jubatus Northern sea lion
This animal, also known as Steller’s sea lion, lives in the northern Pacific, from the Kuril Islands in Russia to the Gulf of Alaska in the north, and thence southwards to central California. It is the largest of the eared seals (Otariidae) and the sole member of the genus Eumetopias.

The name Steller’s sea lion commemorates German naturalist, physician, and explorer Georg Wilhelm Steller (1709-1746), who described the species in 1741. He participated in the Second Russian Kamchatka Expedition, led by Danish explorer Vitus Bering (1681-1741).



Female northern sea lion, Oregon, United States. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Phasianidae Game birds


Gallus gallus Domestic chicken
Recent studies indicate that chickens, or simply fowl, were first domesticated in China about 8000 B.C., descended from the red junglefowl (Gallus gallus), which is still found in the wild in India and Southeast Asia. Later, about 6000 B.C., domestication of the red junglefowl also took place several places in Southeast Asia and in India, where some hybridization with the grey junglefowl (G. sonneratii), living in the southern part of India, may have occurred.

The chicken is described in depth on the page Animals – Animals as servants of Man: Poultry.



Chick of an old Danish breed, a few days old, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Gallus lafayettii Sri Lankan junglefowl
As its name implies, this bird is restricted to Sri Lanka, where it is widely distributed, living in a wide variety of forested habitats, from sea-level up to an elevation of 2,300 m. It is the national bird of Sri Lanka.

The specific name was given in honour of a French aristocrat, Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, also known as Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834). He participated in the American Revolutionary War, commanding American troops in several battles. After returning to France, he was a key figure in the French revolutions in 1789 and 1830.



This gorgeous male Sri Lankan junglefowl was encountered in Sinharaja Forest Reserve. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Pongidae Apes


Pongo pygmaeus Bornean orangutan
This fascinating animal is described in depth on the page Animals – Mammals: Monkeys and apes.



In 1985, I visited the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Sabah, where orphaned orangutans are trained to a life in the wild. Lacking a mother, the orphans often become much attached to one another. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Procaviidae Hyraxes
Hyraxes constitute two genera, Procavia and Dendrohyrax, in Procaviidae, the only living family within the order Hyracoidea. These animals resemble large guinea pigs, but their nearest living relatives are in fact elephants.


Dendrohyrax arboreus Southern tree hyrax
The 3 species of tree hyraxes, genus Dendrohyrax, are distributed in sub-Saharan Africa. The southern tree hyrax is found from eastern Zaire, southern Uganda, and southern Kenya southwards to eastern Angola, Zambia, and northern Mozambique, with two isolated populations in southern Mozambique and south-eastern South Africa. This animal lives in various types of forest, and also in savanna and rocky areas, provided there are trees. It may be encountered from the lowlands up to an elevation of 4,500 m.



Southern tree hyrax, Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Strigidae Owls


Bubo virginianus American great horned owl
This large owl has an enormous distribution, found from Alaska and northern Canada southwards through the entire United States to southern Mexico and Guatemala, and also in two separate areas of South America, from Columbia eastwards to north-eastern Brazil, and south of the Amazon Basin, from eastern Peru eastwards to the Atlantic Ocean, and thence southwards to north-eastern Argentina.



Captive American great horned owl, Oregon, United States. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Sulidae Gannets, boobies


Morus serrator Australian gannet
This bird was first known to scientists during Captain James Cook’s first great voyage on board the Endeavor (1768-1771), when English naturalist Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820) shot three specimens on 24th December 1769, off Three Kings Islands, New Zealand. (The fate of these specimens is described on the page Sleep.)

The three gannets of the genus Morus, the Australian, the northern (M. bassanus), and the African (M. capensis), are all very similar, but are generally considered to be separate species, although some authorities regard them as subspecies of M. bassanus.

Incidentally, the name Morus is derived from the Greek moros (‘foolish’), due to the lack of fear shown by these birds at the breeding ground, allowing them to be easily killed.



Preening Australian gannet, Muriwai Beach, New Zealand. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Testudinidae Tortoises


Testudo graeca Greek tortoise
This species, also called spur-thighed tortoise, is widely distributed in southern Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia, found in southern Spain, eastern Romania and Bulgaria, Greece, northern Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya, and from Turkey southwards to northern Israel and Jordan, and eastwards to the Caucasus, Iran, and Turkmenistan. No less than c. 20 subspecies have been described.

The Greek tortoise may be distinguished from the quite similar Hermann’s tortoise (T. hermanni) by having large symmetrical markings on the top of the head, large scales on the front legs, and a spur on each thigh.



Greek tortoise, subspecies ibera, Pergamon, Turkey. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Turdidae Thrushes


Geokichla guttata Spotted ground-thrush
This bird is presented in depth on the page Animals – Birds: Thrushes.



This spotted ground-thrush has been caught in a mist-net to be ringed, Rondo Forest, southern Tanzania. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Varanidae Monitor lizards


Varanus komodoensis Komodo dragon
The Komodo dragon is the world’s largest lizard, growing to 3.5 m long and weighing up to 135 kilograms. This giant monitor lizard has a very limited distribution, found only on the small Indonesian islands of Komodo, Rintja, and Padar. It is described in depth on the page Travel episodes – Indonesia 1985: Difficult journey to Komodo.



Komodo dragon, Komodo Island. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




(Uploaded October 2019)


(Latest update September 2021)