This post was published about 8 months ago in my blog but thought it worth sharing given the encouragement by Desh Sir.
While returning from phulbani’s forest areas yesterday, i had a strange experience. Kindly discount the element of drama that i have put in to generate interest.
It was near about 6 pm in the evening and i was sitting in the pick up truck with a fellow employee and driver. Disappointed at the poor show in the neem procurement campaign i was clicking my way through the forest’s bountiful natural beauty with the receding sunrays filtering through the sal trees. I knew we had to get fast out of the areas as man turned into wild terrorists (read naxalites) might be lying in wait anywhere.
at one turn all three of us were taken aback by the sudden turn of events in front of us that was least expected. From the hill side were descending a herd of 10-15 elephants about 100 metres away from us as the lad like driver brought the empty vehicle to a silent halt.
Having noticed our presence the herd hurried on to the slope. I desperately tried to get out but both the driver and the staff (saumya) holding me firmly lest i get down. No sir!! they exclaimed. They are very dangerous animals. Dont u dare get down. they can toss this vehicle around if they want.
dejected and angry i asked them to move on after the herd had left but made them halt about 300 metres from the site near an old temple. the sadhu came out and instantly i was near him bombarding him with questions. kyon baba yeh hathi marta hai kya???
are nahin saab, paas main baccha ho to marta hai nahin to kuch nahin karta.
haathi se bachna kaise chahiya?? i asked. Haathi pahad par aaram se chad jata hai lekin uska sir bhari hota hai isliye utar nahin pata hai.
to phir to yahan kahin bhag hi nahin sakte kyonki yahan to poora pahad hi pahad hai. I joked little knowing what fate had in store for me 15 minutes later.
Angrily i turned to the staff. dekha tum bewkufon ki wajah se mera photo reh gaya. haathi shakahari aur peaceful janwar hai samjhe.!!!
The staff were left speechless as i retraced my steps to see if i can click the footprints in the mud.
I was more focussed towards the ground now as frustration had made me mad with rage at these ignorat fools. jindagi main pehli baar itne sare haathi wild main ek sath dekhe the 🙁
Having gone just 100 metres (enough to elude the sight of the two some group) when to my utter surprise i saw a group of 4 more elephants majestically following the footsteps of the earlier group. Thera was a big female elephant and a smaller girl elephant accompanied by two small kids.
apparently they had noticed that they were being watched as they started hurrying.
I took out the camera and horror of horror the drained pirated batteries brought the camera to a halt.
With shivering hands i brought out the two spare batteries (which were almost drained as well) and tried to load them into the camera. This proved to be a mistake as the bigger famle of the lot now felt a bit insecure as she stopped to turn its head towards me.
Million Theories of fear,fight and flight raced through my mind as the 5 tonner beast stood there looking at me while i started moving back while facing it. Though it was far enough for me too zoom my camera but my jittery hands and low light gave a very poor result of the first two shots.
Ere i could turn the flash on the elephant moved a bit further down to hide itself into the thick bamboo thicket and let out a trumpet sound enough to alarm the two people i had left behind.
SIRRRRRR age mat jaiyya.
I moved backwards towards them and put my finger to my mouth wildly before the animal gets more alarmed and starts on the dreaded pursuit that makes it one of the most dangerous animals on earth in that moment.
Seeing me moving back towards to more people all of them also moved hurriedly into the dense jungle.
I gulped the saliva down my throat and returned with a pale face towards the waiting two boys.
Sirrrrrrrrrrr aap hathi ke samne khade the???aap bach gaye bal bal.
The pujari of the temple added his cool remark… kismat wale ho bhaiyya.
I agreed.But a deep piercing thought got left somewhere in my heart. Why so much insecurity in such a big animal.
The answers was not far. The man animal conflict i was told was at peak in this area as an NGO i met made me recount the destructive habits of elephants in search of food in villagers where my classmates were posted for fieldwork.
(please discount the emotions they are for the first time reader)