What warns you is the sharp tang of freshly crushed vegetation and the sound of leaves being torn. But the herd smells you before you can see it. A baby elephant begins to squeal in fright. Adults immediately cordon the baby. They continue this protection till you are safely past. Way up the jungle path, a lonely tusker in 'mast' condition looms large. Sweat breaks out. Will he charge?
Seeing elephants in the wild is a raw, exhilarating experience. The Corbett Park is the best place in Northern India to observe them at fairly close quarters. About 300 - 350 Asiatic elephants roam around the park in herds, along the river Ramganga or foraging in the grasslands.
The forests provide the elephants enough food. The elephant's daily diet is perked up with wild berries and fruits which are available aplenty. A great delicacy is the plant rohini (mallotus phlippensis) which is favoured by elephants when they are in the 'mast' condition. It cools them down!