SECURITY DRILL OF ELEPHANT
Security drill means ensuring security to a target or a number of targets in a methodical way , which is a very much familiar word in Police. Similar drills are also observed in the wild life. We had the opportunity of experiencing such a drill during our trip to the Manas National Park , a world heritage site.
It was late afternoon hours. We were proceeding to the New Bura Buri point inside the Park from Mathanguri . According to our guide, at that time the animals cross the road at that point for drinking water in the ponds , before leaving for nocturnal destinations.
As we were about to reach the New Bura Buri point , a big herd of elephants came to our sight that started to cross the gravelled road. At the forefront of the group , a big tusker was piloting the group. All followed him. He stopped in the open stretch of land behind the Forest Camp of New Bura Buri point , where all members one by one joined him .
Our Gypsy stopped just hundred metres away from the scene. Another big tusker appeared from behind the tall grasses of the other side of the gravelled road, who seemed not to be happy by our presence in his territory . He stood on the road, blocking it. We requested Abid , driver of the Gypsy , to back the vehicle. But he didn’t . However at our persistence , he started the vehicle , tried to back the vehicle. Enraged at the sound of the vehicle, the tusker moved towards us with a frowning look. Abid immediately switched off the vehicle. Only then our Gajraj moved away and started supervising the safe paasage of his group members, who were coming from the other side of the road. He was playing the role of escort commander. He waited there till the last calf crossed the road with his mom and joined the pilot tusker near forest camp. Then after finishing his duty as a hardcore escort officer, he moved from his position and joined the group . Entire herd disappeared inside the deep forest. Then Abid explained to us, why he did not start the vehicle. Because the noise of the engine in their territory is not welcome.
Though it was a spine chilling experience that lasted almost half an hour, yet the experience we gathered was a precious one. Every moment was full of suspence. The protectiveness and camaraderie, the tuskers exhibited for their younger ones is really an amazing scene. The youngest calves were placed in the middle of the group in the company of their mom.
Throughout the entire episode, the words of Swmkhwr, our guide and Abid , our driver , were our strength, who asked us not to be in panicky, not to shout and lastly not to venture out for photography. In such situation photography is to be done only under some cover . Because it is their territory, we must respect them.
Second experience we had while we were driving across the Kaziranga National Park towards Jorhat. It was a January evening. Suddenly from left side of the road a huge tusker appeared who was about to keep his feet on the National Highway. Luckily we crossed. But when we looked back found all vehicles coming behind us , stopped , switching off the lights. After traversing a few kilometres , we stopped in a roadside tea stall, where we met a few Forest guards. While we narrated the story to them, they said that there was a big herd down the slope . The tusker , leader of the herd, came out for reccee, playing the role of a road clearance team. In such a situation one is to stop the vehicle, turn off the light , stick to one’s seat silently till the last member of the group crosses the road. It is really a wonderful strategy of survival of the animals amidst human movement in their corridor.