He was a majestic tusker, walking without hurry, keeping to a long, snaky track. Coming from another direction, we had spotted him and stopped at the head of the track. He was not too far when we arrived, but our distance grew quickly despite his slow gait. His behind shook and swayed with his step, throwing a lady behind me into a giggling fit that she tried hard and failed to hold down. Her embarrassment was thick in the quiet of the forest. Quite soon, the mammoth grew too small in our telephoto lenses, and we started the engine and drove down the track to close the distance.
Not all of us in the safari vehicle fancied this tracking of the elephant. There could be about 3000 elephants in the forests around the Kabini River; the number of tigers hovers over a hundred. So, tiger-sighting is more precious, and, besides, big cats have always held greater allure.
Even as we approached, the elephant turned and began walking toward us at the same pace as before, thrilling especially the photographers among us. We had in our sights his long (intact) tusks and a strange, serene face. The forest had been rained on for over a week; there was gloss and lustre on the lush greens, the muddy path was wet and shining, and framed in that setting was this huge handsome beast.
Handphone cameras and larger cameras fitted with telephoto lenses worked away. Soon, though, the elephant grew large in our frames and we sped in reverse gear to the junction, where we resumed our watch of the advancing elephant. He had his trunk up and curled and swaying; its tip pushed the air left and right — he was sniffing to catch a signal of something. And then he was passing right by us, so close that it was breathtaking, and we could see now that he was in musth, the wet streak thick down his temples. That explained his complete disregard for us, his apparent self-absorption.
The fellow wanted a female. All of him was focused on getting one.