Elephant (Elephas maximus indicus)   Leave a comment

Its been a relatively hot summer in Bangalore this year and last week we decided to visit BR Hills to get a respite and also enjoy some wildlife. As luck would have it, the heat followed us to the hills. After a day and half of scouring the forest, in the hot sun, my family decided to take a break and enjoy in the resort instead. I ventured back into the jungle in the hope of seeing an elephant before we headed back home. BR Hills is famous for its elephants but we hadnt sighted any.

There was no joy during the onward leg of the journey and I kept going deeper into the forest hoping to find one. In the end, disappointed, I headed back towards the resort. But on the way back, I saw one of these gentle giants enjoying a bath near a lake. I sat in my vehicle clicking away. I wished I could get my kids to join me but there was no mobile signal. Acutely aware that I had been in the forest longer than what I had indicated to my wife, I decided to leave the elephant and head back.

As I was speeding back on the circuitous mountainous road, I nearly ran into this elephant in the picture. It was standing on the road around 100 meters from where I finally managed to stop my car.There was a heavy thicket on my left, a ditch on my right and a young elephant in front on a narrow, slanting and winding road !

My initial thought was to click a photo from real close quarters but my instinct told me to move back immediately. The elephant made its displeasure evident by looking at me head on and flapping its ears. It took a few steps in my direction and then stopped and slightly raised its right leg. In all this excitement I nearly backed the car into the bushes. Luckily for me, something coming from the other side of the road distracted the elephant – later on realized it was another approaching vehicle. I couldnt see the road beyond the elephant as it was standing near a curve with the trees and bushes blocking my view. It turned around and chargeed in the opposite directing trumpeting loudly. It was indeed a frightening sight. But it quickly turned back again, after maybe warding off the threat, and walked back to its original spot and kept its eyes focussed on me. I thought that this behaviour was a little unusual because it was not really grazing.

And then I heard some noise. Around 100 odd meters in front of me, I saw another elephant make its way onto the road from the thick cover of shrubs and creepers on my left. A very small calf, maybe not even 10 days old and hardly able to walk, was walking by the side of the second elephant. Must say I was quite scared at that moment as elephants are known to be quite aggressive when they have small calves to look after. It dawned upon me that the first elephant had been tasked with keeping the road clear for the baby to move safely. I knew that the lake was behind me and with an elephant happily bathing in it. If the trio in front of me decided to walk down the road towards the lake, it would really test my backing skills on a treacherous and winding road through the mountains. Infact if in the interim the elephant behind me had finished its bath and decided to come on the road, I would have trouble from both ends – maybe even curtains for me.

As all these thoughts were flashing through my mind, the elephants in front of me gave me one final look and then went down the ditch to my right- into the jungle below. I waited till I was reasonably comfortable that they were gone and there were no other members of the herd making their way onto the road, from the left, and then sped away towards the resort with lasting memories of this encounter with these mighty creatures.

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