Elephant Safari at Pobitora – The rhino park of Assam
It was around 9:30 of night. I was in my bed doing some non-productive internet surfing in my Nokia 8 when I got a call from my senior colleague and our Company Secretary Dipankar Barua who asked me if I would like to go for a short trip to Pobitora. It was a Friday evening and next day evening I had a get-together with my friends which I didn’t want miss. So I wanted to know the plan. He told me that its a sudden plan for him too and he wanted to go early morning and return within 10. Pobitora was only an hours drive from Guwahati, so I agreed.
He lives at Rajgarh, hardly one kilometre from my rented house at Guwahati. I reached his place at around 6. He was ready and awaiting me. We started at 6.15.
After an hour when we reached Pobitora, parked the car and went to the ticket counter it was 7.15 and we were told that its all booked but there may be a chance as one person has not called. We waited upto 7:30 when the guy at the ticket counter called us and started to fill the entry form. It was a reasonable Rs. 450 per person for elephant safari and an additional 100 for entry into the sanctuary. We crossed the hanging bridge over the large pond separating the sanctuary from office buildings. I was there for second time and I must say the bridge and views from the bridge, both are beautiful.
There were six elephants waiting to go for safari. But it looked like they were waiting two more elephants to return from sanctuary and join them. After some wait the elephants came from Jungle and were readied for the safari. The waiting tourists rode elephants one by one, three of them on one elephant excluding the mahut.
We started at around 8. It was my first elephant ride. I was not sure how it would feel, but I was surely excited. One elephant calf was also accompanying the herd. It was naughty and playful befitting its age. After just two hundred metres down the road we took right turn through a belt of trees and soon reached the grazing field. I never saw rhinos in the open. The moment we entered open grassland that was burnt down, we could see two rhinos grazing. They looked like the most innocent and peaceful animal in the wild.
As we approached the couple, they raised their heads as if annoyed with the presence of outsider in their territory but there was no sign of violent movement. They slightly turned and slowly started walking away from us. I tried to shoot the couple with my camera but in vain. The lumbering of the elephant didn’t allow the camera to be steady and without any support I hardly could bring the rhino couple in my camera frame. Most of the shots were out of focus or object partially out of frame.
Just then someone shouted ‘see there’s a jackal’. By instinct I looked towards the direction the people were trying to indicate while picking up my camera. I saw a fox running in the grass in the distant among the herd of cows. Suddenly I thought should I shoot a fox? I have seen them in an around my home in my hometown and heard them howling in the night almost everyday. In next moment the fox almost disappeared in the grass and I tried look somewhere else for another piece of interest.
Soon we could see a few wild buffaloes near a shallow waterbody mostly muddy. It looked like all those buffaloes just came out of the mud. The mud camouflaged their sturdy and black muscular bodies and made them so ugly that I had no interest shooting a photo of them.
I started little chit-chat with the Mahut regarding their profession and about the sanctuary. He told us that there are 102 rhino in the sanctuary. My senior colleague also informed me that the sanctuary have highest density of rhino. It seemed true to me as we could see rhino all around us by that time. Some in close distance some far away grazing quietly. The Mahuts were very smart and stopped from where we could take best possible shots. But most clicks returned garbage except one in which I could capture the newborn baby rhino with its mom.
Mother rhino with its new born babyThe safari lasted for an hour. It was refreshing to be among the wild beasts and seeing them so close. The ride on elephants also is so thrilling.
After the safari we went to a nearby eco-camp by the river Brahmaputra and had breakfast there. Its a newly opened eco-camp that boasts of having ATV, parasailing, boating etc though it looked like nothing is functional except night camping. But I must accept the location of the eco camp is very beautiful and far from the madding crowd in the lap of nature. We returned by 12:30 after a sweet short trip that made my weekend.