TN forest turns arena for man-beast standoff

TN forest turns arena for man-beast standoff

Desperate to clear his path of the beasts, the driver cursed and then nonchalantly pressed on the horn.

The elephants did not budge and the driver continued to blare the horn, believing it would scare away the burly beasts. All he succeeded was to set off a man-animal standoff that nearly froze the blood of the passengers on the bus. Men at the wheel plying their vehicles through roads bordering wooded areas often can’t help showing the beasts who rule the forests. The drivers time and again ignore the forest department’s warnings against irritating animals.

Sure enough, the result is often close to disaster as the driver found out on Monday night. He incurred the wrath of a young elephant when he thought he would scare away the pachyderm herd with persistent loud blaring of the horn.

Two calves of the herd were distracted by the excessive honking. Noticing the calves’ distress, the elephants moved ahead and blocked the road, officials in the area said over phone.

Receiving a distress call, the range officer of the Tirupattur Forest Division quickly reached the spot — also closer to the Vainu Bappu Observatory at Kavalur, a unit of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics in Bangalore — and stopped the traffic on the road to defuse tension.

A menacingly large male tusker lumbered across, stopping to turn and look at the driver and its passengers for a minute before it used its head to pummel the bus. The animal’s “vigorous” posture as it joined the herd to block the bus was an indication that the elephants resented any distraction to their visit to the pond on the opposite side of the road which they frequent for bathing and as a watering hole, sources said. As the tusker defiantly faced the bus and even came closer to rattling its windowpanes, the driver maintained his cool and waited for the right opportunity to wriggle out of the situation. “Luckily, there were no human casualties,” sources said, adding that the forest officers objected to the driver whisking away the bus when they were trying to defuse the crisis “scientifically”.

 Everyone then had to play the “waiting game” for nearly two hours when the pachyderms started moving into the inner reaches of the forests, he said. Later, some low intensity crackers were set off to ensure they did not return.

The 50-odd passengers in the vehicle were fortunate that the tusker only rattled the bus windowpanes and did not cause more damage.

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