Elephant Attack - 2
We (wife, Daughter, Niece and I) were holidaying at Gorukana, a wonderful Eco resort on the BRT range last September. The innovative cottages and tree houses were a great experience and we decided to take a drive through the main road since the official Safaris through jungle roads were called off – awaiting the Supreme Court judgment.We did a few drives the evening, where the usual dose of barking deer (BRT is famous for its high density of barking deer population), gaur, elephants and a variety of birds were seen. As it was getting dark, we retired for the night, planning an early morning drive.
We set off early next morning, with two other cars from the resort joining us. The first was an Indica which had the senior naturalist Jadaswami leading the way, followed by a Wagon R with a couple of guests. I chose to drive my own Honda behind both.Barely had we gone post the first check point, the barking deer made its appearance, followed by the CSE’s, Peacocks and other little birds like Kingfishers, Barbets, jungle Mynahs etc. A few minutes into the drive, the Indica suddenly came to halt. The Wagon R was caught unawares and slammed the brakes, screeching to a halt, inches from the rear of the first vehicle. I had quite a distance between Wagon R and stopped my car as well. The light was just about getting better and I could see a female elephant in the bushes, a few meters to the left of the Indica and the Wagon R. Quickly glancing to the right, I could see the outline of a few more elephants to the right of the car as well, which both the other vehicles had not seen, but were concentrating on the one on the left.
What was happening was, the herd had crossed the road, while the one female elephant was a bit slow out of the bushes. The Indica and Wagon R had stopped in front of the female elephant, cutting it off from joining its herd across the road. This was a perfect recipe for disaster, for not only was the elephant getting ready for a serious charge (front leg was lifted, and the animal began to rock from side to side), the occupants of both the cars ahead had clearly not noticed the herd on the right.I stuck my head out of the side and motioned to Jadaswami, pointing to the right. He got a shock of his life seeing the rest of the herd and immediately ordered the Indica to move away. The Wagon R driver froze seeing the rest of the herd as well and in his fear, let go of the clutch pedal a bit too fast and the car came to a knocking halt. It was at this moment the elephant on the left decided to charge. Letting out a chilling shriek, it charged straight for the Wagon R. The driver somehow restarted the car, swerved to the right and sped away, just as the elephant swung its trunk, missing the car by millimeters. The momentum of the charge, carried the elephant right at us, but since I had maintained a safe 100 feet, had enough time to reverse away a further distance. The animal stopped and was contemplating its next move. I knew for sure the next one was not a mock charge (tell-tale signs included ears pinned to the head pointing front, trunk curved inward and above all, the tail pointing to the sky)
I waited for a few minutes and thought it was over. Deciding to join the other cars in front (for the road was too narrow for me to turn the car around and go the other way), I slowly moved my car forward. As I came into its strike zone, it charged again. However, the speed of my car, helped me get past the animal and we could see it running behind us for almost 200 meters before it gave up.