July 5, 2012

A Night Safari...!!

After spending the whole morning staring at the beautiful hills in the background of our resort in Wayanad, we were getting restless and wanted to move out and explore. A casual question from our resort manager sounded like this- Do you want to go on a night safari? This was something none of us had experienced before and all wanted to have a taste of the so called night safari. Also this was no normal safari with a proper vehicle or a certified guide. The vehicle was the Tavera we had travelled in from Bengaluru with a driver and the guide was our resort manager who had no previous experience of professional night outs in the jungle. His only experience was that he has been living in that region for a couple of decades and knows the route and animal interventions quite well. Another interesting aspect was that the safari was not through any wildlife park. It was basically a drive on Thettu road which takes one all the way back to Kutta (Karnataka border). Our guide had traversed on this road numerous times and was confident we would get a glimpse of some wild being in the night.

All were quite excited about the safari that we were least bothered about the sumptuous dinner that was served to us. After gobbling it down we left the resort at 9 in the night with our resort manager cum guide and the driver. It was nice little drive through pitch darkness and silence in search of a wild animal straying along the wayside waiting to be photographed.


We had not travelled for more than 10 minutes before we braked and found 2 guys on a bike who had stopped in the middle of the road. We were in for a shock as less than 200 meters in front of us stood a 10 feet tall female elephant which was on the verge of running amok. To instigate it, the biker guys kept raising the throttle, blinked the lights and irritated the animal. They kept repeating their senseless act and kept smiling at us as though it was some performance inside a circus ring. Our guide cautioned them not to repeat their act as it could irritate the animal. He also asked them and our driver not to switch off the headlights and to remain calm as the animal after sometime would walk away. Supposedly the elephant had lost its new born kid when it was hit by a vehicle a week back. Ever since the animal has been creating problems for night travellers on that road. Also a biker was crushed to death a couple of days back by her.

 Suddenly without any warning the pachyderm turned frenzy and charged at us. This made all souls inside the vehicle to shriek and urge the driver to return back. Our guide was however still very calm and asked us not to be frightened. The animal stopped after 50 meters and stood there slapping its trunk on the road. The road was not wide enough and it would take some effort from the driver to turn back. What if the animal charged again? We were bewildered, stunned and didn't know what course of action to take. Our guide meanwhile was quite confident that the elephant would go away in a few minutes and was talking to us about continuing the safari. However we made our stance clear that we wanted to return without any delay. As we stood waiting for the animal to calm down, to add more fun to the already crazy situation, our driver who was a jerk switched off the headlights of the vehicle. A couple of seconds passed by when we were in pitch darkness with a wild elephant which was all set for vengeance. All shouted at the driver in hushed voices and he had no option but to switch on the lights again. His reasoning for the weird act was- "In Karnataka we switch off lights when in such situations!!" All turned their heads towards him with same facial expression- WTF?? The animal which was on the verge of charging didn't care whether she was in Karnataka or Kerala and whether we were Kannadigas or Malayalees. We had to forcefully make the driver follow our instructions. "Don't worry, nothing will happen" slogan kept playing from the guide and we slowly started reversing. We wanted to make sure the animal had calmed down before we turned back. Had it charged again when we were reversing it would have been mission accomplished for the wild beast. :)

As we returned, the distance between us and the animal which still stood firm in the middle of the road grew far. Our guide cautioned that there could be more elephants on our way back. We drove slowly, carefully with all eyes searching for any further trouble.  It was time for more shrieks and fear when after 500 meters we found a tusker crossing the road. We had to stop again and wait for the animal to cross. He however looked least perturbed and walked by without any wild acts. We moved further ahead and found two more elephants grazing nonchalantly besides the road. Keeping farthest distance from them we carefully drove back to the resort without any further wild sightings.

After getting off at the resort it dawned upon us that we just survived a wild elephant attack and were lucky to be alive. That was indeed the wildest, scariest and the most weirdest night out that I have ever experienced.

44 comments:

  1. We barge into their territory and act as if we own the place. A little bit of sensitivity towards nature and wildlife can perhaps prevent extinction of these wonderful creatures.
    I must admit that Ive been to many a safari during the night, but feel ashamed of how greedy I've been/I am to disturb and create insecurity among the creatures for just a momentary pleasure of mine.

    But then, doesnt that trait largely define us Humans?

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  2. Well said, Subbu. This is exactly how we define ourselves by intruding into others spaces.

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  3. what an experience! What subbu syas is so true.... if only people behaved with a bit more sensitivity....

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  4. :). Ya, human beings are masters of senseless behaviours. :)

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  5. Humorous narrative...Lovely to read and tempting to experience :)

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  6. Wow. What a fantastic,memorable and wildly exciting forest adventure (though scary). And you have narrated it so well that even my scant hairs were raising:)

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  7. Thanks a lot Ramakrishnan. Your comment made my day. :)

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  8. Very interesting experience there. Excellent narration, could feel the entire setting and atmosphere!

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  9. Ha ha ... got scared from inside a vehicle?! When the vehicle gets stuck in the muddy slush of dirty forest roads is more fun! When on foot is still better :) Great post, loved it!

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  10. Thanks Kusm. That sounds even more interesting.

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  11. Good narration Niranjan. where did you stay? I went there 2 months back and stayed at ktdc Tirunelli. it was pretty awesome.

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  12. Thanks Murukesh. I stayed in a resort in Mananthavady.

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  13. Very well narrated..haha!! Experiencing goosebumps.. :)

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  14. Gosh I am happy to hear that you all came back safely.

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  15. :). Yeah, lucky to survive that scare.

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  16. That was quite a narrow escape, eh. It was ONE thrilling night, I'm sure. :)

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    1. Definitely a narrow escape and a thrilling night. :)

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  17. wow!!!! one helluva thrilling incident...could have turned bad at any instant!!

    http://sushmita-smile.blogspot.in/

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  18. Once we went to Kaziranga and after travelling from Bangalore to Guwahati and then further by road, when we finally did see the one-horned rhino, I felt a bit stupid - it's often this 'they' and 'us' - doesn't always make sense, when we don't know how we got created and why we are here!

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    1. Absolutely agree to your point. But thats how humans are. :)

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  19. I think zoo night safari is an thrilling experience and wildlife lover should go for it atleast once.

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    1. A proper night safari is definitely a great experience. Thanks for dropping by.

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  20. Wow that must have been a terrifying experience. Am sure you will never go on a safari without a certified guide in a private vehicle ever again!!

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    1. Never ever will I venture out like that again. :)

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  21. Terrifying experince. I feel bad for the elephant that lost its kid.

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    1. When we humans encroach their space, these are bound to happen. There are lots of such incidents happening everywhere.

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  22. I was just too scared to read the terrifying experience. I think I would not have survived and... me..never venture for any tough and risky adventures..

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  23. My God Niranjan, that was a scary story with a humour touch. The most scariest situation to be in the wild and that too when its dark. To be frank, I laughed out loud once, after reading about your driver switching off the car lights. I was imagining the elephant finding it hard to decide whether to charge or not because she didn't know whether she was in Kerala or Karnataka or whether you were Malayalees or Kannadigaas. But jokes apart it's a lesson for all of us.

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  24. Such adventures are humuourous only in retrospect. :):):).

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    1. You're right Niranjan. And now after reading about the Bannerghatta incident. Really scary.

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  25. Travellers and adventure seekers should make sure that they are equipped with professional guides before they venture out. The bannerghatta story was a crazy act.

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  26. God was merciful I would say. In the normal circumstances nothing would have happened but in your case it was a mighty mother looking for the vehicle which crushed its kid. Though they have the ability to distinguish, one can't predict.

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  27. Most elephants, especially cows, do a mock charge to scare off intruders. Even tuskers are not very keen on creating an incident except if they are in their musth period. I'm surprised your driver switched off the lights. What happened to the bike guys? I'm sure they disappeared when the elephant charged. Should have been an interesting scene

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    1. Animals usually dont attack unless provoked. Also they attack to make sure they are not attacked. The bike guys were still there when we left the place. One exciting night it was.

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