For the past three years, on September 11, heavy rain has caused flooding at the park. It always happens on this day, after three days of tropical downpour. Every one at the park stays awake to
monitor the river levels. The mahouts change to become river watchers.
At 4 am the water rises to the edge of our land and the mahouts move the elephants to shelter.
We find that Papa, our young teenage elephant of 19 years, is missing. It is still dark and all the mahouts are sent out to search for him. They
clamber up the mountain which overlooks the park. The mountain is a favourite haunt of Pupa where he enjoys gorging on the sweet young bamboo shoots. We split into three teams for the search in the darkness.
We are upset and afraid for his safety. The surging river is so strong. We start
to pray. At 5 am the light comes and an elephant foot print is spotted by the
Some mahouts run along the river bank and others drive to the end of the valley to search for him. We call and call his name for over two hours. It is a very worrying time.
Suddenly someone spots a grey trunk rising from river on the other side of the river bank, then a big grey body emerges from the water and scrambles to the land opposite
Yes it is Pupa. He had decided to go to the village knowing full well that his mahout could not swim across to take him. He came back with the full belly and some of sugar cane hanging from in his mouth.
We are too relieved to find him safe to be angry at his exploits.