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Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Galibore - Jan, 2014.

Happy New Year – Have a great 2014!

Lesser Fish Eagle at Galibore

About 30 years ago, six youngsters from Bangalore city decided to camp out on the banks of the river Cauvery, not too far away from the current “Galibore, JLR”. A group of wild elephants surrounded their tent in the middle of the night and to this day they are never bored of repeating the story of this adventure and how they escaped unharmed!

You guessed right, one of those boys was me. On the 21st of January, 2014, with a slight nudge from VMR (Executive Director, JLR), I decided to drive out to “Galibore” with my son (we). Little did I know that history was about to repeat!!

Situated inside the Cauvery Wildlife Santuary, Galibore is about 100 kms from Bangalore. A 2 hrs, easy drive, via Kanakapura. The camp is basic, 12 spacious tents facing the river. The location is to die for! Nature, Nature and more Nature!

Fine new tents!

The camp site...

Neat beds and toilet inside the tent!

Earlier, Galibore was famous for angling! Anglers from all over the world would come here and catch the famous mahseer fish. More recently, there is a ban on all fishing in this area. A Coracle ride along the river is good fun. A Nature Walk around the camp, bird watching and nature photography can all be very rewarding. This camp can also be a very good “do nothing” place!

We reached Galibore by lunch time on the 21st Of January, 2014. I have visited this camp several times in the last 25 years! Nothing much has changed here over the years. After lunch we made a quick walk around the camp and I was able to shoot the Brown Fish Owl and The Brown Hawk Owl roosting nearby.

Brown Fish Owl (Left) and Brown Hawk Owl (Right) at Galibore

At 3 pm we went on a wonderful Coracle  ride and I was able to shoot the River Tern and the Small Pranticole.

The humble Coracle and the mighty river!

The fun part if you are new to the coracle ride is that every now and then from your insignificant flotation device, you will sight a large crocodile, sitting peacefully, on the banks of the river or the nearby rocks. As soon as the monster senses your presence it will quickly and silently enter the water and you will feel it is coming for you! In reality the poor animal is running away from what it considers a monster! O, we sighted about twenty of these reptiles in all sizes in our coracle ride of about 2 hrs. All of them behaved the same way – they quickly disappeared under water!

Crocodile on land...

Crocodile in water!

The real adventure however began that night! My son and me were the only guests.. We skipped the camp fire, had an early dinner  (Since we were the only guests I had requested for some very simple food – rice and sambar!) and were in bed by 8.30 pm! The staff (that night) consisting of four men including the cook retired to the staff quarters which was a bit away from the tents.

As we switched of the light and got into bed all was quite and pitch dark. I could hear the river flowing and the deep calls of the Brown Fish Owls! Suddenly, the tranquility was ruptured by the mother of all roars! An entire heard of elephants had just arrived…

The mighty foot print!

Believe me that roar is really scary! Not the usual trumpet, this one was a roar, a really powerful roar, right behind our cloth tent! It was pitch dark outside and there was no one around! The elephants must have sensed our presence? What on earth am I supposed to do?

Common sense told me to stay inside the tent and keep quite. We did just that … though for a very long time I could hear the typical sound of twigs cracking as the elephants moved around in the night … sometime later I could hear my son sleeping and I too drifted off to sleep! Surely, all my experience with being in elephant country for many decades came to my rescue that night – I must admit that it was a very scary experience indeed! Many a thought can flash through your mind in such a situation… Nightmares for us city folks, everyday reality for people who live in these areas!

Next morning (22nd January, 2014) our guide came over cheerfully at 7am with some coffee and encouraged us to go on a bird watching walk around the camp. When I enquired about the elephants, he told me that a herd of about 20+ elephants had passed through the area in the night.  They have left the area he announced. I was not that sure...

I simply asked him to go ahead and see if he can spot any roosting owls as I had to get my equipment ready. Within minutes he was back, the elephants were right next door! I quickly followed him and took a few shots of the two large animals that were feeding very close to the tents. This ended my bird watching/photography session even before it began!

The Tusker that scared us!

The Tusker's companion...

So? Well, I did nothing for the rest of the morning except laze around in the camp. Good food, fresh air and the river – almost heaven!

As I lazed, I noticed the very rare elsewhere but common at Galibore, squirrel! The Grizzled Giant Squirrel  was feeding on a tree right opposite our tent and I managed to take a few shots for your viewing pleasure…

Grizzled Giant Squirrel - Only at Galibore!

After lunch another Coracle ride and this time I went after the “Lesser Fish Eagle” that I had first discovered here in 2002 and got a good picture indeed!

I noticed a group of feral buffalos on the way. The male looked quite aggressive and stood very still as we passed close to him. My guide told me that this guy can really come after you and if that happens your only hope would be to climb a tree, quickly!

This buffalo is no longer domestic!

The wild buffalo's family...

As we returned in the evening, the staff told me that there was no trace of the elephants. They must have wandered off… Later, we watched a stunning sunset on the river and again had an early dinner as there were no other guests.

At about 9pm I heard them again. The elephants were back! The crackling of the twigs, an occasional roar and this time some splashing water. It was fun! However, this time I easily faded off to sleep…

The next morning ( 23rd ),  we again saw the two elephants next to the tent! I gathered by looking at the elephant tracks and talking to the locals that the herd had passed on and only two had remained near the camp. Some more photographs… But, no bird watching/photography treks this time I thought…

Plenty of Otters in the area!

After breakfast we left Galibore and the elephants and in about two hours were home for a wonderful lunch!

Just two nights by the river, so close to home, so much adrenaline! Please do not go there if you are not a true nature lover!

Vijay Cavale
January, 2014