Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Countryside Elephant Watchtower at Assam, North East India

This was one of the most interesting experiences I had during my stay at Nameri National Park. It was late November when I was here last. The birding and wildlife experience was great. In fact, I could not have asked for anything more. However, it was marauding elephants that completely captivated my interest.

Apparently, this was the month when the rice crop was nearly ripe and soon to be ready for harvest. This is good news for the farmer, but the bad news for him is that the elephants know this piece of information too and they had made their way from the Himalayan mountains of Arunachal Pradesh into the plains of Assam. And once they were on the plains, they ensured that they attacked the rice crops every night. To prevent this, the local farmer community would set up watch towers where people would keep watch right though the night and if the elephants came by, they would alert the group and set off crackers to to scare away the pachyderms. I heard the crackers the first night and was keen on being at the actual scene the next night. Thus, I cajoled a local farmer and got a seat in one of these make-shift watchtowers for the night. It was a scary experience as locals mentioned that in the past, the elephants had uprooted such watchtowers. Thankfully, nothing happened when I was around. But, nonetheless a fantastic experience to see a huge herd of elephants in the dead of the night.

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