Elephant herd, Kaziranga National Park, India by Shantanav Chitnis

Picture Story

When our jeep safari driver ground to a halt stating elephants were about to cross our track, the eyes searched around in what appeared to be just a dense thicket. A few minutes later, ever so silently, an adult elephant emerged from the left, and stopping short of the safari track, surveyed us for a minute. Then she stepped on to the road, turned to face us full on, and waited. Satisfied that we posed no threat, she turned her head to her right, in a manner of beckoning, and back towards us again. A calf clambered on to the road, the elephant resumed her journey, walking alongside the calf and disappeared behind the trees on the right side of the road. Another calf followed the first one, and then a juvenile climbed onto the road. This one stopped momentarily and sized us up before proceeding.
The four elephants that had crossed the road waited together behind the trees signalling that the crossing was not yet over. All the while, the adult female had her eyes riveted on us just to ensure we did not resort to any mischief.
Shortly, another calf came on to the road, followed closely by a giant adult female. She too turned to face us full on, her trunk half raised in a precautionary gesture as her calf crossed the road. In this position, she backed up, turning back swiftly as her little one disappeared into the undergrowth.
After everyone had crossed, the herd resumed their journey towards a visible waterbody about half a mile away. Once they were clear of the trees, I clicked this photo of one of nature’s precious offerings – a family that loved, cared and stayed together.

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