Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Wild Encounters... Smarty Pants ... Eli-Phants

Agreed..!!!! Elephant sightings are less glamorous than the Tiger...But they can turn out to be far more dangerous.....

We were on casual drive around on the hills of area called Sita Bani..It was not a safari....more  a meandering drive through the   green lush vegetation  to the temple on the hill top .Suddenly  the quiet  of the jungle noises was broken by excited cacophony of a bunch of  excited young city slickers .... Haathi...Haathi ...we could clearly hear....They had stopped and were enamoured by a big evidently angry raging bull, a tusker..And in their foolishness were out of their Jeeps trying to make acquaintance with him and videographing the encounter..

Providentially...for them we swung by before the Tusker decided to say hello to them. Our instinctive reaction first to stop....but then thought not.... and asked them to scramble out  as well ...fast...rather super fast...
Split seconds was all we had to gain a lead and ...then the chase began...We were chased by an angry infuriated full grown bull with  long white glistening tusks.
What a chase?

What an adrenaline rush.....but thank god all were safe!!...That night the entire camp and surrounding areas were abuzz with  wild encounter
Elephants are the largest land animals. They can weigh over 6000 kg, or more than the weight of four cars! The one feature that makes an elephant unmistakable is its long trunk. A trunk is an elephant's best tool for sucking up water, digging, grabbing, lifting, sniffing, and breathing. The trunk even has a finger like tip that can flick dirt from an elephant’s eye or pick up a single blade of grass.
There are two species of African elephants.  And the Asian elephant

Elephants live in social groups called herds. Herds usually have about 10 to 20 members. Sometimes many herds will meet and form “super herds” of 100 or more elephants. Herds consist mainly of females that are related to each other. A typical herd might include mothers, daughters, aunts, and grandmothers, and a few young males. The oldest female is the herd’s matriarch. She leads the herd to water and finds food and a place to rest.
There are also smaller bachelor  herds that are made up of adult males.
 Elephants are herbivores. They eat grasses and shrubs as well as the roots, fruit, bark, twigs, and leaves from trees. Because they are such large animals, elephants need to eat and drink a lot. Each day, a full-grown elephant eats at least 100 kg  of food and drinks as much200 litres  of water.And they have move great distances to find  this food and water. A herd can travel 30 kms or more in one day and a landscape never looks quite the same after a herd of elephants has passed through it

Did you know that Elephants also use body language to communicate? For example, when two elephants meet, they may grasp each other’s trunks, this is just like a  we do a handshake.
Elephants use it as a way of saying “hello” to each other or to test each other’s strength.

Smarty-pants Elephants......Elephants are one of the most intelligent animals on Earth. They also have very good memories. Scientists believe that a herd’s matriarch remembers the location of water sources and feeding grounds and passes this information on to younger female elephants. When one of these young elephants becomes the herd’s new matriarch, she will pass on what she’s learned as well.

Talking of passes and corridors on our way to the camp on the day of the chase...we were in an animated discussion on the conservation ....of how man was destroying all that he could lay his hands on....in name of development and construction.

And how even elephants need road less migration corridors....They need their passes open  ...Our driver  Bali Chand  a youngish  city born and bred  taking in the conversation  with tremendous awe asked.....Sir ji...Kya Haathi ko bhi Pass  lena padta hai?.( does an elephant have to  apply for pases ?)

We thought to play along and replied ...Hmmm!!! yes ...Hahnn !! lena padta hai...

Bali Chand was now quiet  and our  humm drummm  soft talk continued... after about 2minutes and a  distinct clearing of throat  a number of times  Bali Chand asked tentatively.....Sir ji  Yeh Haathi Log apna Pass rakhte  kidhar hain... ina a perplexed tone .. It was with effort that we somehow  suppressed our mirth which was almost exploding and my grand daughter with a straight face said ..Bhaiya woh   laminate karke Gale mein taangte hain.

Both Asian and African elephants migrate and generally follow the same migratory routes annually. Migration distances vary considerably depending on environmental conditions. During a prolonged dry season in Africa, elephant migration distances were recorded to extend over 100 km (62 mi.). 
Interesting situations arise sometimes when animals do not obey the man laws and his new rules...  read on  as to how the bend  and adapt these layouts ...

Mfuwe Lagoon, a huge ox-bow lake, has always been one of the Luangwa's most popular areas for game. The lagoon is overlooked by Mfuwe Lodge, which is larger and more luxurious than most other lodges in the valley. Its open dining area, bar and lounge shelter under a vast thatched roof, outside of which is a large wooden deck over the lagoon
 The elephants at Mfuwe Lodge in South Luangwa National Park in Zambia give new meaning to the word ‘close-up’ game viewing. Their visits to the wild mango trees on the property seem to be a regular occasion twice a day for about 4 weeks and then again for another 3 weeks to feed on the nutritious mango trees. Apparently Mfuwe Lodge was built, without knowing, on the elephant’s traditional path and in return offers frequent close up encounters with these fascinating animals. No incidents have been reported to date! 

Mfuwe Lodge was constructed on an elephant corridor between Minneriya National Park and Sigiriya National Park, the Elephant Corridor Hotel captures the essence of nature, history and wildlife. Built with minimal disruption to the ecosystem, wild elephants find it natural to walk up to the hotel lobby or through the pathways of the hotel while monitors and wild peacocks roam our immaculately groomed lawns at sunset.

These amazing pictures show why you shouldn't get between an African elephant and its favourite food.  Mfuwe Lodge in  Zambia  happens to have been built next to a mango tree that one family of pachyderms have always visited when the fruit ripens.  When they returned one year and found the luxury accommodation in the way, they simply walked through reception.
An elephant wanders through Mfuwe Lodge, in the South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
 The animals came in two-by-two: Hotel staff and visitors have got used to the elephants' impromptu strolls through reception.

Now the family group, headed by matriarch Wonky Tusk, return every November to gorge on mangos - up to four times a day.
Andy Hogg, 44, director at the Bushcamp Company that runs the Lodge, has lived in  South   Luangwa   National Park  since 1982.
But in all his years of dealing with wild animals he has never seen such intimate interaction between man and beast.
'This is the only place in the world where elephants freely get so close to humans,' says the 44-year-old.  
'The elephants start coming through base camp in late November of each year to eat the mangos from our trees.
'When they are ripe they come through and they stand about for four to six weeks coming back each day or second day to eat the mangos.'

Living in the 5,000 square mile national park, the ten-strong elephant herd are led to the lodge each day by Wonky Tusk.
'The most interesting thing about this is that they are wild animals and are certainly not tame,' explains Andy.
'They come through the lodge to eat the fruit.  'There are ten in that herd and it is only that herd that comes through. It is a strange thing.  
'The matriarchal in the herd is Wonky Tusk, and she brings the nine others through and they come and go as they please.' 

'The elephants do get reasonably close to the staff as you can see with the pictures of the elephants near the reception,' he explains. 'But we do not allow the guests to get too close.'  
'Guests can stand in the lounge are but as long as there is a barrier between the elephants and the guests that is okay,' he added.
The elephants are not aggressive but you don't want to tempt anything as they are wild animals. 'It is the elephants choice to come into base camp and they have been doing it for the last ten years.  'There are other wild mango trees around and they seem to prefer this one.'
And even thought the lodge was unwittingly built upon the path, Andy says they had no idea the elephants would insist on returning.
'It wasn't a design mistake - no-one really knew they were going to come through,' he says. 'The lodge was built and then the elephants started coming through afterwards.

Naturally, the lodge becomes a busier attraction for both elephants and guests during November time.  'We find that we get more people visiting us during the elephant migration because of the unique experience of being so close to wild animals in an unusual environment,' says Andy.
'But as I said this is a totally natural phenomenon, the elephants come here of their own accord and it is certainly a rare but magnificent sight.' 


  1. An elephant fact that fascinates me is that they seem to understand death and actually appear to mourn their dead. Most people assume that we are the only species that does this.


  2. Yes True.....When an elephant dies, its family members engage in intense mourning and burial rituals, conducting weeklong vigils over the body, carefully covering it with earth and brush, revisiting the bones for years afterward, caressing the bones with their trunks, often taking turns rubbing their trunks along the teeth of a skull’s lower jaw, the way living elephants do in greeting.”

  3. A True story from Mali

    Elephant Death Rites

    August 4,2010 by SusanCanney
    One of those small happenings where the elephant and the human worlds meet ….. Villagers from Wami told me about an elephant that had died nearby from natural causes (old age or disease). A group of about 6-8 elephants remained, standing around and apparently watching over the dead body which they covered with earth and branches. They stayed for around 4 days before moving on and leaving just one elephant who stayed for another 3 or 4 days before she left too.

  4. Nice photos ,and interesting information,