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.

kabini migration

Photograph: Santosh Saligram

 

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.

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.

kabini migration

Photograph: Santosh Saligram

 

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.