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Friday, November 24, 2017

Bull elephant in musth

The two safaris at Bandipur were blank and on the third safari at Kabini as we entered the forest we saw a elephant with huge tusks and both my companions, nephew and son in law were quite thrilled of seeing an elephant in the wild. This was just the beginning of an excitement that i am sure that they would cherish for ages to come. As we were travelling along the safari path we noticed a bunch of elephants peacefully feeding beside the path and our driver drove towards them slowly and yet these elephants never showed any form of aggression. Just as we crossed them we noticed that one of the female had moved on to the safari path with ears flaring and tail upright and i asked my nephew to get ready to capture a video of the elephant charge... and yes she did a mock charge at the jeep. As our driver sped up a bit we suddenly saw the matriarch charging at us from the side with loud trumpeting and stopping within 5 meters of the vehicle. It was then noticed that there was a young elephant among the group and they were protecting it and so we moved ahead but then we did not notice up ahead in the front we had a huge bull elephant (male)  in musth right on the safari track glaring towards us.
Musth is a periodic condition in a bull elephants when they have a large rise in reproductive hormones and the Testosterone levels can be 60 times the normal times. An elephant in musth can be identified very easily as the elephant discharges thick tar like secretion called temporin from their temporal glands on side of the head. An elephant in musth is very aggressive and even the most placid ones become very violent towards humans and other animals and hence it is not able to predict their actions rationally,

Given the condition of the bull elephant on the safari path our driver did not want to try speeding by the elephant for it would surely attack the vehicle. He stopped the vehicle and hoped that the bull would cross the safari path sufficiently far so that we could speed off but then no, this elephant in musth started walking towards the jeep. 

 Now we were literally stuck with the females in the back blocking the safari path and the huge male walking towards us. The driver was slowly reversing the jeep and few of us watching the back and others watching the front with bated breathe and hoping that nothing untoward happens. 


The bull elephant kept on coming and the jeep kept reversing on the path towards the small herd of female elephants. The herd started moving out of the path when it saw the bull elephant and this was the window our driver was looking for and with a burst of speed reversed the vehicle further back to a safe distance and then we kept watching the scene as to how one female elephant beckoned the male and after a moment the tusker also moved away from the path into the forest behind the females.  

 The rush of adrenalin in all the persons in the jeep was clearly visible and my companions enjoyed these moments for it was their first time in such situations and especially with elephants. The safari vehicle drive and the naturalist in the jeep were very skilled and exhibited coolness and did not panic in this situation and we are thankful to them for a wonderful safari.
Hope you enjoyed these moment while reading the post and viewing the photographs / video.

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