In the last 7 years of my field experience in Kabini, I have never seen a monsoon of this nature. It started to rain heavily as we were leaving. There were around 15 guests with me, and I could see a tinge of disappointment on their faces.
As I explained to them about Kabini and it being one of the few parks in India which is open even during the monsoon, and considering that, we were lucky to go for the drive, they got really excited.
I also narrated my close encounter with elephants last year. Coincidentally, it was Ganesha Chathurthi, the day of the ‘Lord Ganesha’ (The elephant God).
My only hope was that the rain should not hamper the sightings. The guests were wonderful, and they had all the patience and appreciation even for birds, deer and so on. Lokesh, as he was maneuvering through the slushy roads, spotted Elephants far on the track and directed us to them. We saw a pregnant female walking on the track in our direction, and hence I stopped the vehicle and requested everyone to be calm and at ease.
We also saw a larger herd of 5 adults and 2 young ones, which seemed to acknowledge the lady’s arrival. The presence of two calves in the herd and the protective behaviour of the herd members and their distress calls created some discomfort to the herd matriarch. And then she reacted by raising the trunk and trumpeting, calling the attention of the herd, which spontaneously reciprocated with different vocalizations.
As a naturalist and wildlife lover, I would never liked the wildlife to be disturbed by us. Hence I asked the driver to move away gently without wanting further attention from them. But as I moved, the herd covered the calves and started charging at us as a unit. We moved far away, much to the delight of the guests. It was indeed a feast for our eyes on the day of the Elephant God, Ganesha.