On being chased…

A sudden charge by an elephant is bad enough. But being followed and chased by a tusker(a male elephant) for no reason at all? Well, that is something beyond my level of endurance…

It was in the year of 2009, in Kabini National Park, India. Standing amidst a cluster of gypsies and peering through the lens, hoping to capture some decent footage of a leopard sitting far far away on a branch of an incredibly tall tree, I was the first one to spot the tusker, walking with purpose around the bend, towards us. We assumed that he would go on his way quietly, but we could not have been more incorrect. It was a thoroughly bored tusker that we were looking at, and he was definitely not going to walk past such a readily waiting source of distraction just like that. I remember reading in Kobie Kruger’s ‘The Wilderness Family’ (a must read for everyone with a heart), about how tuskers, who live in isolation, often get very bored. They turn to the only other things in the wilderness that are of comparable size to them- the tourist jeeps, for some distraction and entertainment.

He walked right at us, and forced us to reverse. Seeing us back off, he walked towards another jeep, and forced them to back off too. He continued doing this with all the jeeps there, and as the tusker got bored with one particular jeep and moved on to the next one, the jeep rushed back to its spot from where they could continue shooting the leopard. In short, it was a complete pandemonium. There were tyres and bumpers and tusks all over the place. And once, I must tell you, when it was our turn to be the guinea pig, he almost gave the vehicle a pat with his trunk!! That was the last straw. I sternly told my dad that a picture of a leopard that was so far away that people would have difficulty in spotting it in the picture, in spite of the huge lens that he had, was definitely not worth the emotional trauma that I was going through. Finally, we vacated the spot, leaving the other jeeps to their fate.

Driving back through the same route late in the evening after an otherwise uneventful trip, we saw the same guy standing in the middle of the road. And this time, he was irritated… Really irritated with the way that we jeeps had treated him. We stopped a few hundred feet away, and waited to see his reaction. Almost immediately, we were joined by another canter which was making its way back to the camp as well. He started walking towards us, slowly at first, and then faster as the distance narrowed. Just as he was about to hit us, our driver swerved the jeep into a small opening in the undergrowth off the road, drove around the tusker, and stepped on the accelerator as hard as he could. The tusker, not expecting this, charged at the poor canter, trumpeting with all his might. We drove as far away from the tusker, as fast as we could, followed closely by the canter with its very shaken tourists.

Turning back, I saw him standing still, swinging his trunk back and forth, with what I would like to think was amusement, and a little bit of sadness at losing his playmates, twinkling in his eyes…

47 thoughts on “On being chased…

  1. What an experience, Sumithra! Scary, yes, but I’d give my right arm to see an elephant that close – we don’t get too many pachyderms here.

    Your story tells me that my notion of elephants as gentle creatures isn’t always the case.

    • Ha ha!! Yes Sir, this truly was one experience that I will never regret having… And I must say, that elephants are definitely the most gentle creatures on earth… He had a lot of chances where he could have just rushed at us, and beaten the jeep into a pulp. But, he never did that… They only get aggressive, especially females, when they feel that their calves are being threatened. That’s when things can get a little ugly. But otherwise, they really are very gentle creatures…

  2. Haha…lovely story very well told if I may say. I agree with all the comments above. I must say that I think that as wild animals go…Elephants are my favourites. I would love to have been there with you, the excitement must have been exhilarating, (as long as your dad was in the driving seat of course!) and some great pics. Thank you for sharing.

  3. My gosh what an incredible experience! What you said “what I would like to think was amusement, and a little bit of sadness at losing his playmates, twinkling in his eyes…” was the same thing I was thinking was going through this tusker’s mind…..what an incredible experience!!

  4. This sounds so funny! I was thinking at first “they must get so annoyed, us coming in through their home so often”, but then at the end I thought hmmm, just maybe he was amused and thoroughly enjoyed it!

    Oh, what precious experiences. Love it.

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