Elephants and Me

I do not know when did I learned about elephants. I remember knwoing them as a mammals, four legged animals, with a tail and a trunk. Fat children in schools were called elephants. I knew elephants were found in jugle, they were categoriesd as wild animals.

I had not much relationship with elephants than this.

After marriage, I went to see them in jungles of Karnataka, through jungle safaris, night sfarais, walks in the jungle and few more palces. I saw their glimpses in herd, sometimes a Tusker alone, sometimes eating from trees and sometimes glaring at safaris. I felt nice and felt I have seen them, I knwo them.

Meanwhile I also saw few pictures in newspapers – sometimes stray elephant killing a farmer or sometimes them loosing their path and coming in city limits. All this created a fear in me – fear of big animal, a huge animal running behind me and throwing me away with his powerful trunk or chasing me and crsuing me to death in anger or agitataion. But I knew they live in jungle, and I live in Bangalore…………………….so they will not come to Bangalore, and If I go to jungle I am always protected and follow all safety rules.

Last yeat at the campus I heard about them crossing this area and using as a corridor. I have also read a little about elepehnats and heard about the “elephant corridor” – I thought I knew what does it mean.

Well, this year my interaction began with them indiretcly when I came to know that elephants come to eat crop of Ragi in this area, they also crushed fresh crop of cucmber and some more stories. I started developing fear for them, but I also wanted to understand them – we all began with finding from people around, including Paramesh in our safety drill on wednesday.

We got to know that they come, forest officers are with them, hear the trumpet sound, and forest officer burst crackers, villagers beat the drums, keep outside lights on and stay inside the house…………and they come and they go – THAT ALL.

In the night we started paying attention to cracker sounds, we also started being alert with any sighest of sound – few nights with this alertness, with curisosity……….I started understanding more, started watching the same area in the day time, listneing more about it.

And one night I woke up with sound, went around to observe and saw some kind of momvement in the opposite hill – some flash lights, many sounds, fire crackers bursting and so on………..I started watching through binoculars and it was moon light and I could see some movement on the opposite hill, and soon I saw a big herd (30 around), I heard one tusker trumpt and I froze – the tusker was very near to our campus. After initial freezing, I was watching their movement and I could feel my anxiety settling down. I wanted to wake up kids (it was 12 in the night), Ratnesh and Namrata were alreday awake – the dilemma was to wake up or not, will it make them more fearful or fear will settle……….finally we woke up all the kids, they coud not see much. But they wanted to see more next time. I was at peace, the forest officers were constanlty in touch with us.

Watching the whole process made me understand many things better – why fire crackers, what role forest officers play, what role I need to play, what more I can do and so on …………….Few days later we spotted one more herd behind the hill at the campus at 6 in the morning – this time they really crossed quite near to the campus. This time it was no fear, it was only alertness.

So, I began this blog with “my understanding about elephants”. Hmmmmmmm I am seeing them so close in my real life that I can relate to them and many more thoughts coming in – “how development on their path to forest (including our own campus) is responsible for imbalance of harmony, how much am I ignorant of such issues and how do I become educated about all this?

Fear and my safety (including kids at campus and other community member) were the only agenda in the begining, but I have now much bigger agenda with elephants !!! What and how, I do not know, but the campus is making aware about mine and elephants realtionship, my role and their behaviour. My fear and their needs.

I am undesratding about them, I never thought of.