Chennaiites share experience of meeting jumbo, leopard

Chennai: For brothers Swarup Kumar and Karthick Kumar, residents of Thambiah Road, T Nagar in the city, a trip to Bandipura Tiger Reserve last week proved to an experience of a lifetime and one of it is a thrilling face-off with an elephant.

“On the morning of 30 September, the two of us along with our friends, went from Masinakudi to Bandipura for a safari at the Tiger Reserve,” narrated Swarup.

“After driving through a few kilometers inside the forest area in the gypsy van, we saw an elephant standing alone and shaking its body near a tree. When I tried to capture the images on my camera, the jumbo moved its right leg and started moving angrily towards our van,” he said, still visibly shaken after the encounter.

“Within seconds, the animal reached near our vehicle, leaving us absolutely clueless as to how to save ourselves,” he added.

Fortunately, the suggestion given by an official of the Karnataka Forest Department, who was driving the van, proved to be useful.

“He asked us to stay still, without moving any part of the body and to avoid seeing the elephant face-to-face. When we followed the same, it halted in its steps and stood for a few seconds in the same spot. After that, it turned back and went straight to a bushy area where its calf was waiting for it,” he noted.

After ensuring that the animal was not likely to come back, the team slowly drove into the forest and never attempted to take pictures of other elephants.

The brothers also captured Indian yellow leopard, sloth bear, herd of Indian gaurs, spotted and barking deers, brown and brahminy kite, variety of birds like oriental scoops, brown fish owl, Indian smelter Babbler and white bellied kingfishers, at the safari.

About photographing the leopard, Karthick, the younger of the two, said, “A langur seated on a tree branch made an alarming call. This made us to halt our vehicle nearby. Within a few seconds, a shiny yellow leopard crossed a few yards in front of us and moved away,” he said, adding,”While passing, it looked at us once and stood for a few seconds, but didn’t come at us.”

Trips like these are not new to Swarup and Karthik, as they frequently visit various tiger and wild reserves in places like Jalana, Ratampur and Sri Lanka, it is informed.

“Right from our childhood, we were deeply interested in wildlife. We soon started travelling to sanctuaries across the country. We also take like-minded enthusiasts on these tours, as our aim is to spread awareness about protecting wildlife,” said the elder brother Swarup who is a marine engineer by profession. For details, contact 89402 34122, 81244 87585.

G Srinivasan