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17 January 2017 / leggypeggy

Elephants galore this time in India

elephants grazing

We’ve visited India three times in three years—mostly in search of wildlife—but the elephants have often managed to elude us.

I have to admit that on our first two trips, we saw elephants in a couple of national parks, but they were almost always specks on the horizon or shrouded by jungle. Should I say I’ve seen an elephant in the wild if all I’ve seen is a grey rump or a waving trunk or a flicking tail? I think not.

Of course, I’m not counting the working elephants we saw. These weren’t tourist elephants, but part of India’s parks and forestry department. The first ones we saw were on a mission to guide a roaming tiger back into its national park. The bottom line was to save the tiger’s life and the lives of any citizens who might get in the way.

We also saw a lone tusker in the distance in Rajaji National Park on the same day we saw three leopards. He moved so quickly I couldn’t get a photo, but he was huge.

elephant family

Mother with young tusker and baby

elephant family on move

Time to go

While I think of it, I’ll mention that most of India’s national parks no longer offer elephant rides as a way to let tourists look for tigers. And even when such rides were offered, we didn’t take them.

So I was pleased that this trip delivered elephants, elephants and more elephants, and virtually all of them in the wild.

Frankly, it was to be expected. Elephants seem to be more common in the south, and this trip focused on the south—from Bhopal in the middle to Kanyakumari, on the country’s most southern tip.

Our first encounter was in Tadoba National Park, where we saw two adults and a baby. But that was only just the beginning because the farther south we travelled the more elephants we saw.

elephant between trees

Every sighting was reassuring, especially when we saw the babies. These amazing beasts are considered endangered. Surveys indicate there are 35,000–40,000 Asian elephants left in the wild. About three-quarters of these are in India, with other populations spread across the many countries of southeast Asia and the subcontinent (although there aren’t any known to be in Pakistan).

Asian elephants are generally smaller than African elephants. They reach a shoulder height of 2 to 3.5 metres and weigh between 2000 to 5000 kilograms (up to 11,000 pounds). Females are usually smaller than males and have no or only small tusks.

elephant mother and baby

Grabbing a quick snack

Their appetites are huge. Adult elephants eat up to 150 kilograms of grasses, plants and trees per day. And they poop throughout the day. Anand always says the only way to know how old elephant dung is, is to stick your finger in. We didn’t need to know that much, but when we were walking, we saw what looked like a lot of fresh dung.

After Tadoba, our next elephant encounter was almost two weeks later in Nagarhole National Park. Then over the next two weeks we saw probably 50 elephants of all ages and in different settings. We saw an especially large herd in Periyar National Park, but I’ll write a separate post about all the wildlife there.

We even saw elephants on the side of the road (not in a national park) as we travelled from the state of Karnataka to Kerala. We stopped and watched them for quite some time and then some knuckleheads came up behind us and got out of their vehicle. Needless to say, the elephants skedaddled and the knuckleheads were lucky they weren’t attacked.

elephant road sign

Elephants have right of way.

I felt bad about a young French couple we later met at the state border. They had taken a taxi from their hotel in Kerala and hoped to cross into Karnataka, where elephants are quite common. Turned out their taxi driver didn’t have an all-India travel permit, so could not cross the state line, and no other taxis were around.

So if you’re ever travelling by road in India, be sure the vehicle is allowed to cross state borders (although there is a plan to scrap the border regulations).

Update on the guy illegally parking in a disabled space
You may remember my rant about the guy who was parking in a disabled space at the gym. Once I had photographic evidence (of him striding away) I called the city’s hotline to report him, but a few weeks later he was still parking there.

So I called the hotline again and said I’d be calling every time I saw him. Haven’t seen him again. 🙂 But if I do, I’ll get an elephant to sit on his car. Maybe one of the fellows below.

tusker elephant

A tusker with a resident bird on his head

large tusker

Notice how much longer the tusks are on this fellow than the tusker just above

122 Comments

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  1. (Wandering) Hippy Lee / Jan 17 2017 12:22 am

    Lovely post! Thank you!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. lorriedeck / Jan 17 2017 12:51 am

    Wow! Just wow! The photos are beautiful, I can’t imagine seeing elephants in the wild! I love the elephant crossing sign. So much cooler than the deer crossing signs around here! Ha!

    Liked by 5 people

    • leggypeggy / Jan 17 2017 6:50 am

      Yeah, I thought the sign was pretty cool. We felt so lucky to see so many elephants (and a few signs too).

      Liked by 1 person

  3. lexklein / Jan 17 2017 1:16 am

    How exciting to see that many elephants! They are such majestic creatures in many ways. Although I know they’d crush me in a second if I threatened them in any way, they have a gentle, peaceful look about them. I’ve only seen them in Africa – fun to see this Asian variety!

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Jan 17 2017 6:53 am

      You’re right about the crushing. We were so shocked to see the knuckleheads get out of their vehicles. Dangerous in the extreme.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. onecreativefamily / Jan 17 2017 2:16 am

    Such majestic animals, and so graceful.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Jan 17 2017 6:54 am

      And it’s amazing how quickly they can move.

      Like

      • onecreativefamily / Jan 17 2017 11:31 am

        You’d think it was very slow.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Jan 17 2017 4:51 pm

        They’re fast and can be very quiet. No wonder it’s easy to miss seeing them.

        Like

  5. beetleypete / Jan 17 2017 3:36 am

    Great to see such lovely animals close up. When I went to Kenya in 1983, I was also lucky to see them, often in large numbers too.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Jan 17 2017 7:01 am

      Thanks Pete. The only large herd we saw in India was in Periyar and I’ll try to write about that soon.

      Like

  6. Sy S. / Jan 17 2017 4:12 am

    Hello Peggy, I am all “Elephant Ears” to hear/read about elephants… and so amazing that you had the chance to see many in your recent travels to Southern India.

    Here in the states the famous Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Baily Circus after 140 years will shut down shortly. Among other things, protests of using Elephants and this practice was stopped (two years ago I believe).. resulting in lower ticket sales.

    Sy

    Liked by 4 people

    • leggypeggy / Jan 17 2017 7:12 am

      Yes, just the other day I saw an article about the circus closing after all those years. Hard to believe.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. akwelle vallis / Jan 17 2017 4:28 am

    I enjoy reading about your adventures. You meet the most interesting animals and people. All of the pictures are great. I’m particularly drawn to the portrait of the lone elephant between the two tree trunks. It’s magical!

    Liked by 4 people

    • leggypeggy / Jan 17 2017 7:25 am

      I really liked that photo too. Thanks for stopping by and for commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Laurie / Jan 17 2017 5:22 am

    Thank you! Amazing animals!

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Dorothy / Jan 17 2017 5:49 am

    Wow Peggy you were lucky to see so many elephants up close. I disagree with Anand’s method of aging the poo. We tracked elephants in Yankari in northern Nigeria and they were always ahead of us as they have very good hearing but we could see steam coming off their poo several times. That is a nicer way of checking. I often wonder if the game reserve at Yankari has survived all the trouble they have had from boko haram.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Jan 17 2017 6:49 am

      Good one Dorothy. If the elephant poo is steaming, you can be sure it’s fresh. But when the steam dissipates, you need the finger method. 🙂

      Like

  10. theorangutanlibrarian / Jan 17 2017 7:32 am

    Wow- I love elephants- lovely pics!

    Liked by 4 people

  11. IreneDesign2011 / Jan 17 2017 7:44 am

    Really lovely photos Peggy, wow for some experiences, as you had there 😀

    Liked by 3 people

  12. kkessler833 / Jan 17 2017 7:56 am

    Wow! Great pics!

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Brian Lageose / Jan 17 2017 9:55 am

    Lovely photos. And if you can’t get an elephant to sit on that jackass’ car, I would be happy to come and do it for you. I can’t stand that mess… 😉

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Jan 17 2017 12:08 pm

      I’ll let you know if you’re needed, but so far he hasn’t reappeared. Rather pleased with myself.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. PantryPortfolio / Jan 17 2017 10:08 am

    These are stunning pictures. I’ve only ever seen them in Africa but I hope to get to India one day.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Jan 17 2017 12:09 pm

      India is a fabulous place to see lots of wildlife. We’ve loved every trip and are still overwhelmed by all that we have seen.

      Like

  15. Curious to the Max / Jan 17 2017 10:26 am

    My favorite animal (next to my dog of course). I LOVE elephants and LOVE your pictures and commentary. Can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like to see them on their own home turf.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Jan 17 2017 12:10 pm

      I’m pretty partial to elephants too. It really is breathtaking to see them slowly emerge from the brush. Surprising how silently they can move. We had to be on high alert.

      Like

  16. Vicki / Jan 17 2017 2:12 pm

    Seeing any animal in the wild is a treat, let alone an elephant. I’m always awed by the size of these majestic creatures.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jan 17 2017 4:11 pm

      Amazing to be in a large van near them and realise they are twice your size.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. wfdec / Jan 17 2017 2:43 pm

    That bird on the heffalumps head. Is that an Indian Willy Wagtail?

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Jan 17 2017 4:11 pm

      You’ve got me, John. I don’t think it’s a willy wagtail, but I’ll see if Deepti knows what it is.

      Like

  18. Green Global Trek / Jan 17 2017 6:04 pm

    Fantastic fantastic!!! I love seeing elephants in the wild and in their natural habitats. It is why we first came to Sri Lanka! To see the elephants of course. You have beautiful photos of these intelligent and gorgeous mammals! Watching them both here and growing up, in South Africa, going to Kruger Park,…one of the highlights of my life!

    http://www.greenglobaltrek.com/2014/10/climate-change-udawalawe-national-park-and-its-elephants.html

    Thanks for an informative post! There are so many challenges for elephants today and they have been so often abused and misused. We need to encourage tourists to “boycott” elephant rides and rather get tourist $ by creating sanctuaries!

    Peta

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Jan 17 2017 6:59 pm

      We were so tickled to see so many elephants. You can imagine how hard it was to narrow it down to just a few photos. Thanks for the link.
      I’m proud of India for abandoning elephant rides in general. Only a few options remain and they show signs of being very ethical. But you’re right, sanctuaries and national parks are the way to go and that’s how we’ve seen them.

      Liked by 2 people

  19. derrickjknight / Jan 17 2017 10:43 pm

    You are right to be pleased to find these elephants and make such good photos

    Liked by 2 people

  20. vbansal96ngu / Jan 17 2017 11:29 pm

    Amazing post and lovely photos. Now I also want to see the gigantic beasts.

    Liked by 3 people

  21. Brenda / Jan 18 2017 12:09 am

    What a rare treat. Elephants fascinate me. We have so much to learn about their intelligence and social behavior. It’s sad that they must depend on nincompoop humans to protect their habitat. Let’s hope we don’t let them down.

    Liked by 4 people

    • leggypeggy / Jan 18 2017 7:48 am

      ‘Let’s hope we don’t let them down.’ What a beautiful and honest way of putting it. Thanks Brenda.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. gerard oosterman / Jan 18 2017 8:35 am

    Such lovely animals. If you ever go and see more elephants and contemplate how old the poo might be, perhaps a photo with someone’s finger testing the poo’s age would be very educational.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Jan 18 2017 11:55 am

      Thanks for the suggestion, Gerard, I’ll see what I can engineer! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  23. lmo58 / Jan 18 2017 10:00 am

    So Peggy, is the elephant with the longer tusks older than the other one or is it a coincidence? Great photos; thank you. And getting an elephant to sit on that horrible man’s car should certainly get his attention. It might even dissuade him from parking there. Didn’t you say he drives a BMW?

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Jan 18 2017 3:21 pm

      I assume the longer tusks mean an older age. Plus I think I won the parking battle. He and his BMW haven’t been seen again.

      Like

  24. Lynz Real Cooking / Jan 18 2017 12:57 pm

    Amazing!

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Sy S. / Jan 18 2017 3:52 pm

    FYI- Here is a “Basic Fact Sheet” on Elephants… Interesting Reading!
    http://www.defenders.org/elephant/basic-facts

    I believe for the African Elephants, they have excellent hearing and can hear a rain storm over a hundred miles away ?… and then the herd moves in that direction for water. (Please clarify if you have heard this ?).

    Sy

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Viaggiando con Bea / Jan 18 2017 9:03 pm

    India will be one of my travel dreams. Nice to meet you in your blog 🙂 Happy New Year 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  27. BoomingOn / Jan 19 2017 11:35 am

    Success! So many elephants.

    Liked by 3 people

  28. voulaah / Jan 20 2017 5:41 pm

    I really want to see these big animals
    Great captures, thank you so much for sharing
    Have a very nice day
    Kisses

    Liked by 2 people

  29. inesephoto / Jan 22 2017 10:57 am

    Beautiful creatures.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. jeanleesworld / Jan 22 2017 2:08 pm

    Oh this looks like so much fun. While I doubt I’ll ever get so close to elephants in their habitat, I do hope to take the kids out west some time to drive among the buffalo. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  31. stephleo / Jan 22 2017 3:22 pm

    What lovely animals! Looks like an amazing time. Thanks for sharing your journeys and letting me travel along with you! : )

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Sheryl / Jan 22 2017 3:31 pm

    The pictures are incredible. It’s amazing how many close-up pictures you were able to get of the elephants. They are such incredible animals.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jan 22 2017 4:38 pm

      It helps to have a telephoto lens. It helps too that the elephants were so close. Twice they were just 15–20 feet away.

      Like

  33. elliebleu / Jan 23 2017 4:50 pm

    The little babies are so sweet. Thank you for sharing your photos. It would brighten anyone’s day. 🙂 -Ellie

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jan 23 2017 8:55 pm

      The babies are irresistible—so cute and so loved and protected by their mothers. You’re right, they brighten everyone’s day.

      Liked by 1 person

  34. Nancy J / Jan 24 2017 4:26 am

    Spectacular photos. I love these gentle giants. How fantastic that you caught them in the wild! Sidenote: I am in a wheelchair, and we have a van. It is inconsiderate when people take a handicap spot that doesn’t need it. I am glad you got photos and reported him! Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jan 24 2017 8:48 am

      We were so lucky to see elephants in the wild. And I was super pleased to catch the parking offender in the wild too. Everywhere I go in town, I’m on the lookout for his car, in case he’s pulling his old trick in new places.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Nancy J / Jan 24 2017 11:13 am

        Haha you’re the best! I hope he gets a ticket.
        I am loving journeying with you!

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Jan 24 2017 12:18 pm

        Loving your company and comments.

        Liked by 1 person

  35. maureenrose7 / Jan 24 2017 5:38 am

    What an excellent thing to share Peggy! I might have cried to see them like this! So beautiful! XO!

    Liked by 1 person

  36. philosophermouseofthehedge / Jan 24 2017 12:46 pm

    They have families and feelings – you captured their world. hopes and dreams.
    (We must make sure they survive…they are like people n blimp grey balloon suits)
    And yes and elephant resting on his car might get the message pressed into his awareness

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jan 24 2017 6:25 pm

      Thank you for your beautiful comment. Elephants are captivating and precious, and we must make sure they survive. Luckily the offending parker hasn’t been seen for several months, so I’m hoping he and his behaviour are history.

      Liked by 1 person

  37. Waste Brain / Jan 24 2017 9:14 pm

    Elephants in India are awesome!

    Liked by 1 person

  38. milliethom / Jan 25 2017 2:08 am

    This is an excursion I do envy you, and I can imagine how thrilled you were to see so many elephants this time. Absolutely amazing photos and such an interesting commentary, as always. I’m glad that in this part of India and S.E. Asia in general, elephants are doing well. I don’t think the story is so good for their African cousins. They’re all such beautiful creatures and I can’t put into words how incensed I feel about hunting them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jan 25 2017 11:47 am

      I am incensed too. It confounds me that so many humans think they have the only right exist.

      Liked by 1 person

  39. Sy S. / Jan 25 2017 8:10 am

    I was Googling endangered animals… and it is sickening to read about all the wonderful animals around the world that are endangered… a subject for another time/blog.

    However, I came across this interests research about elephants and cancer… Elephants rarely get cancer. Read on; “Utah researchers say elephant protein is blasting cancer cells”
    http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865671623/Utah-researchers-say-elephant-protein-is-blasting-cancer-cells.html

    Sy

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jan 25 2017 11:49 am

      Remarkable news, Sy. Thanks for the link. Hope this might be an answer for cancer as long as it doesn’t jeopardise the elephants in any way whatsoever.

      Like

  40. mommermom / Jan 25 2017 9:11 am

    That must have been so fascinating to see these elephants so up close and personal. For some reason I’ve been reading some books recently about elephants and have developed particular fondness for them so your post today was of particular interest to me. Great photos!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jan 25 2017 11:54 am

      Glad you like the photos. It was a tremendous opportunity to see the elephants so close to us. Remarkable animals. Nice that you have been reading about them.

      Like

  41. The Year I Touched My Toes / Jan 28 2017 7:46 pm

    They are magnificent Peggy. Glad you saw so many. This post and the Australia Day post didn’t come up in my reader. Not sure what is going on there. Louise

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jan 28 2017 9:54 pm

      Thanks Louise, don’t know what’s going on with WordPress. I haven’t changed any settings. I seem to be missing some posts too. 😦

      Like

  42. plaidshirtdiaries / Jan 28 2017 8:43 pm

    Amazing photos!!

    Liked by 1 person

  43. Akuokuo / Jan 29 2017 11:51 am

    I admit it–I’ve got an elephant crush! I keep coming back to take a look at these guys 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  44. barkinginthedark / Feb 1 2017 2:49 pm

    my favorite animal…rode one at Tiger Tops. continue…

    Liked by 1 person

  45. veeskitchen / Feb 14 2017 2:14 am

    Thanks for loving Indian Elephants 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  46. Marc and Ann / Feb 19 2017 7:41 pm

    Wonderful to hear and excellent pictures!

    Liked by 1 person

  47. Srishti&Aditya / Feb 23 2017 8:13 am

    Such lovely pictures! Love elephants a ton! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Feb 24 2017 7:43 pm

      That’s good because there are tons of elephants to love. 🙂

      Like

  48. Indian Holidays / Mar 7 2017 6:06 pm

    Goodness! Simply stunning! The photographs are excellent, I can’t envision seeing elephants in nature!..

    Liked by 1 person

  49. Onceuponalife / May 1 2017 12:38 am

    elephants are so amazing!! i can’t believe you got to see them in real life!! you are so lucky!!! Come visit my blog onceuponalife17.wordpress.com if you type this is the search engine it should come up. 😀 Once upon a life

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 1 2017 9:25 am

      Thanks for visiting and commenting. Elephants are so wonderful. Your blog looks great.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Onceuponalife / May 2 2017 5:48 am

        Thanks!! Yours too!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  50. saisuresh007 / May 26 2017 2:18 pm

    Good pictures

    Liked by 1 person

  51. rachyclaire / May 30 2017 3:36 am

    Beautiful pictures!!

    Liked by 1 person

  52. lifeintrips / Jun 9 2017 1:41 pm

    Elephants are beautiful… even I love them…

    Liked by 1 person

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