‘Aaney, aaney, aaney!’ my little niece started jumping up and down the moment she spotted few elephants in the distance. As the long walk started from the parking area to the river bank, we could spot plenty of elephants – of all sizes and age. We reached Sakrebailu Elephant Camp at the right time. The pachyderms were lining up for bathing one by one. We settled ourselves at a safe distance near the water to watch them play in water.
The elephants were enjoying all the cleaning, rubbing and sort of massaging they were getting . They listened to their mahouts’ commands – turned, rolled, poured water on themselves using their trunk. We watched them getting cleaned. There was this one juvenile elephant, the moment his mahout turned away he started galloping away from the water. He ran few feet, stopped & turned his head to steal a glance and run again. It was as if watching a naughty, mischievous kid running away from his mom. Later I found out from one of the mahout that his name is ‘Kabira’ and the most naughtiest in the entire camp.
My initial thoughts and assumptions while driving towards Sakrebailu were that the place will not be different when compared to Dubare elephant camp. During my visit to Dubare few years ago, I was totally disappointed how the elephants were being treated. There was not enough water in the river Kaveri, not sufficient enough for the elephants get submerged to half their height. Plus visitors are allowed to wash and feed them causing the big mammals some sort of discomfort. But the situation appeared to be better at Sakrebylu, visitors are not allowed to wash them. From long chat with one of the mahout I got to know that once the elephants are bathed, they are taken into another site inside the deep forest for food. I also enquired about the four newly captured wild elephants that were brought to the camp just couple of days ago (it was in the news papers). I was told that only the trained ones are brought this part of the camp which is open to public and wild ones stay in the deep jungle.
Soon after Kabira exited along with couple of other big ones, there it was the smallest one in the entire camp. The caretakers around there asked us to keep distance and not to make any sudden movements. The tiny shy one was almost running to keep pace with its mom. Soon they entered the river and went deep in the river. The mother elephant started swimming classes to the small one. Away from all the attention it was getting, the baby seemed quick enough to learn tricks in the water. Take a dive, swim underwater between its mom’s legs and come out on the other side. My niece was ready to take that little one home as a pet that too by carrying it on top of our car. After a disappoint visit to crowded Dubare, Sakrebailu turned out to be a nice place for few hours of visit.