Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Don't expect a loner to behave.

loner

At first light, we still had a few minute’s drive ahead of us before we reached the first check-post into the jungles. Force of habit is an incredible thing to be working against - the otherwise interesting discussions on quantum physics and philosophy do not really work while your body keeps repeating just one word : “Sleep”.

And then our senses were yanked wake by a sight least expected. We were taking a turn when we saw a young bull elephant around the corner – a shy loner with piercing eyes.

The place was an isolated patch of wilderness – not inhabited, but with a lot of human activity along the road. There was no food in sight, and this was no known migration route. The herd was nowhere to be seen: this guy was danger.

The engine was turned off, and for a longer-than-usual minute, we waited as he surveyed the scene, and then slowly crossed the road to disappear into the bush alongside.

The opportunity was too good to be let to pass – a few cameras exited the car, and the men behind them inched forward slow as snails, trying not to infuriate the tusker. The car’s engine went on, ready for action if the need arose.

Amidst the clickety-clack of shutters the elephant turned around, and that is when I noticed the smudged swelling on the side of his head – This was a loner in musth.

Musth (or, alternately spelled, must) is a periodic condition in bull elephants, characterized by a thick, tar-like secretion called temporin from the temporal ducts and, far more notably, by highly aggressive behaviour. …

…scientific investigation of musth is greatly hindered by the fact that, once under the influence of musth, even the most otherwise placid of elephants may actively try to kill any and all humans.

15 comments:

silverine said...

OMG!!! You are lucky to be alive!!

Great pix btw.

Fresh Lime Soda said...

Dude, ru seriously trying to replace Mike and Mark of Nat Geo. where did u go to meet that hunk...

Moi said...

despite my huge love for pachyderms , i will avoid one looking to create trouble.......but can we blame them?? it's their land we are encroaching and not vise-versa!!!

heh? ok said...

holy something or the other! i'm glad there are people like you who do this sort of thing without becoming incontinent.

Flyaway Mind said...

kewllll..i remmeber the bus journey, where u narrated 'testing the elephant-dung' episode ;) did u test the musht as well? :)

Sonia said...

hmmm... i know a few homo sapiens who seem to have the same problem! :P

Anonymous said...

balu chetta nice description.....
Kesu

ToOothlEss WOndeR! said...

silverine: it wasn't all that bad. we had teh car - he didn't . we had the advantage. :)


fls: aiyyoo.. i'm small fish. This was in Kerala - jungle that stetches out into Periyar tiger reserve.

moi: They are almost always justified. A loner elephant is always a bunch of frustrations. Imagine you having to leave behind a whole herd that you knew all your life cause it got a new leader.
And must - your herd can mellow you down, but what can you do when you just lost yours?

heh?: i will not claim that I'm th bravest of men. There's fear - and there is excitement. Sometimes excitement is blinding.

flyaway mind: I did check a lot of dung even this time around - if tht makes you happy. :)

sonia: An elephant is an intelligent animal. Thrills, power and companionship is at root of all trouble - ours and theirs. :)

kesu: :)

crumbs said...

Brush with death and all that huh?
:D
Now you can't complain that life's boring.

AF said...

u will have more value for life now...i guess!!...i saw the whole blog....very nice,clear pic!

Rums said...

That was quite an adventure u had out there Bala!!! Wish i was there too... :(

ToOothlEss WOndeR! said...

crumbs: life was nevr boring. i was only single. :)

af: thank you! life always was a very valuable thing to me - just that like every other thing, i believe even with life, detachment should not be difficult. :)

rums: you could have come, actually. :)

sandeep said...

:) did u crop this pic?

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