The Kabini Migration

Published on: 06/12/2017

santosh-saligram 1

Photo Credits: Santosh Saligram

Readers may be familiar with the world famous migration which happens in the Serengeti ecosystem in the great African continent during which hundreds of thousands of Wildebeest and Zebra travel from Ndutu plains in Tanzania all the way to the Masai Mara plains in Kenya and back, in search of food and water. This fascinating cycle of journey has prompted many admirers to call it the eighth wonder of the world. However, India too witnesses its own version of this migration right here at the Kabini backwaters.


The lush green forests of Nagarhole (the forest is named after the river Nagarhole, meaning serpent river in local dialect) are also home to the breath taking Kabini backwaters which formed as a result of building a dam across the mighty Kabini River which also flows through the region. Over the course of time, the backwaters became the favourite ground of the Asiatic Elephant which inhabit the forests of Southern India in plenty.


Elephants are extremely social animals; they live in herds with sizes of the herd ranging from a handful of Elephants all the way up to 50-60 individuals. These gentle giants have tight family structures, with some believing that the structure is similar to that of humans. Every herd has a matriarch whose role is to guide the members of the herd to green pastures which offer enough food and water for the family. Calves when born are taken care of by not only the mother but also by aunts, and it is captivating to watch the measures a herd takes to protect its young ones from the dangers of the outside world.

santosh-saligram 2

Photo Credits: Santosh Saligram

An Elephant feeds on at least as much as 100 kilos of food and drinks close to 200 litres of water every day, so naturally the summer months present a tough time to these creatures. Therefore, herds traverse huge distances during these months to meet their survival needs; Elephants are known to temporarily migrate to the Kabini backwater region from different parts of NIlgiri biosphere reserve including from the jungles of Bandipur, Wayanad, Mudumalai, and Satyamangalam.


In addition to this, the forests of Nagarhole are home to a healthy population of resident elephant herds. This makes the Kabini backwaters home to the largest congregation of Asiatic Elephants anywhere and so, it is not uncommon to see a few hundreds of Asiatic Elephants feeding along the backwaters on a single day spent in this part of the forest. What more, the abundance of food and water also attracts a host of other wildlife to the area and is sure to make your wildlife safari an action packed one. Guests could either take a jeep safari or a boat ride in the Kabini river for an opportunity to observe the giants from close quarters.

Any piece about the congregation of Asiatic Elephants is incomplete without a special mention of the incredibly huge Tuskers the forests of Nagarhole are home to. One has to see them to believe it.


Santosh Saligram

Santosh Saligram is a writer, editor, photographer, designer and content-and-communications strategist from Bengaluru, who is enamoured with ‘all things sentient' and the tragically futile effort of capturing their magic through creative media. Santosh describes himself as a 'pen-and-camera-wielding raconteur', for his style involves narrating a story in partnership with images, films and graphics to sing paeans of the mystery and joy that are inherent in Nature. He's been a photography mentor, leading tours to various wildernesses for nearly a decade, authored at least two known books partly or fully, and been awarded both nationally and internationally for his pictorial work. 


An Aural Journey through Nagarahole: The Language of Deception

male tiger kabini © santosh saligram

An Aural Journey through Nagarahole: The Sound of Tardiness

Elephant Families 2

Caretaking in Elephant Families

common hawk cuckoo santosh saligram

An Aural Journey through Nagarahole: The Seen and the Sawing


Touring Kabini with Your Eyes Closed: An Aural Journey through Nagarahole: Alarms True and False


Sabu – the First Indian Star in Hollywood


An Aural Journey through Kabini: Pre-Dawn Critters and Jitters

Bull Frog 2

A Naturalist’s Office


Of Tufts and Tails


An Aural Journey through Kabini: The Beginnings

SAN 6605

Why you should put a backwater boat safari at the forefront of your Kabini visit – 2


The Master of the Seas

SAN 6516

Why you should put a backwater boat safari at the forefront of your Kabini visit – 1


From the Kitchens of Evolve Back – Sutta Sigadi Mathu Hannugalu


From the Kitchens of Evolve Back – Masala Raagi Cheela


From the Kitchens of Evolve Back – Tandoori Zaffrani Paneer & Tandoori Phool


From the Kitchens of Evolve Back – Tumbida Ginnu

Img2192 B

From the Kitchens of Evolve Back – Raagi Mudde Bassaru


From the Kitchens of Evolve Back – Hurida Meke Mamsa


From the Kitchens of Evolve Back – Masala Hoo Kosu


From the Kitchens of Evolve Back – Kuruba Adina Saru


From the Kitchens of Evolve Back – Sutta Naati Koli


From the Kitchens of Evolve Back – Savatekayi Suttadu


From the Kitchens of Evolve Back – Kendadali urida sigadi mathu meenu


From the Kitchens of Evolve Back – Bidirinalli Beyisida Koli


From the Kitchens of Evolve Back – Vaje Bale


A Date with the Wild


From the Kitchens of Evolve Back – Hurida Koli


First glimpse of god – the Black Panther of Kabini


Farmers of the Forest

1 2

Life of a Tiger Mother

Image 6

Bagheera – Down to his Knees!!!

image 2 1

The Magic Continues

 15A8800 2

Kabini – a heartfelt tribute

Image 2

Bagheera’s first appearance !

IMG 0502

The Legend of Karapura


The Elephant Mating Game

IMG 8798

The Story of Bhimanakolli

 MG 1573

Kabini – a brief introduction

IMG 8725

The Lost Temples of Kabini


A Face-off on the Highways of Kabini

IMG 8571

Flame of the Forest

Kabini image3a

A Foggy Morning in Kabini

Leopard Chital Kill-1150 2

Leopard – The Ambush Hunter!

santosh-saligram 2

The Kabini Migration

leopard 2a

Where The Ghost of the Jungle Comes Alive

Jackals Nagarahole-6199a

The Return of the Jackal

Black Panther Injured-8281

Phantom of the Forest!