A year ago, I decided to visit a small stretch not so known to tourist, called Coorg. It is the land of coffee and spices. The vastness of its plantations is not only lush but also enchanting. The region is also known for its forests, wildlife and natural beauty which took me so far away from my busy life in the city. Here, for the first time in my life, I got acquainted with this magnificent and bright headed animal – the elephant.
Since I am very fond of animals, I wanted to know more about elephants. Through our resort, we booked a small elephant safari to a place called Dubarey. There was nothing very exceptional about the safari, it had an elephant ride, and we could bathe them, feed them and so on. What got me very keen was how intelligent the animal was and the remarkable coexistence between man and the elephant. Let me start by narrating how from each experience we learnt so much more about the creature of wisdom.
While waiting for our turn to ride on the elephant, I noticed how the mahout sat erect with his legs lodged behind the animal’s ears and rock back and forth with the elephants stride. As soon as one ride was over the mahout gave orders to the elephant to sit down to let people embark him. The elephant obeyed instantly proving his loyalty to his master. When it was our turn, I decided to speak to the mahout about their lives with the elephant. The mahout began by saying that he and his elephant are inseparable. Every day they started their day by feeding and bathing the elephant, followed by lifting and dragging felled trees. The cycle of eating and working continued. He said they spend every waking moment together. It was fascinating to see the familiarity between a small human and the gigantic animal.
The other thing I noticed is how the huge animal is so child-like and does everything in order to get pampered. There were a few elephants enjoying their baths in the Kaveri River. Since it was summer already, the waters weren’t high and therefore we got a change to step into the beautiful river and bathe the elephants. I noticed a mahout vigorously scrubbing his elephant called Ekadanta (one tooth) since he had only one tusk. He encouraged me to touch him. I reached out my hand and touched his trunk. The skin was coarse and covered with prickly black hair. Ekadanta seemed to enjoy the human contact. Every time the mahout scrubbed the animal, he made sure the mahout could do it easily by raising his foot or trunk or simply closing his eyes and enjoying the brush. The mahout told us that the elephant is very intelligent; they learn many commands as many as, between 26 to 43. There are commands to stand, move forward, lie down, pick up, and also a few, where the elephant is asked to suck up water and blow it over his back. According to him, the elephant’s brain expands upto 65 percent and makes them curious and gives them the ability to learn naturally. The whole idea of the animal being so smart and so close to the human intellect surprised me. That is when I realised why Lord Ganesh is the deity of Intelligence.
From my safari, I was so enthralled by this animal and felt so small and ignorant. We as humans do not even once think about the potential and ability of these animals. For us they are just a source of entertainment or we simply disrespect and neglect them by encroaching upon their lands. That day I decided never to underestimate or take any animal for granted but treat them with respect and admiration.