• Fri. Jul 12th, 2024


Obviously, being invaded and letting off your territory as compromised by sharing it, is unlikely to be accepted by Army personnel,but here in Narangi Military Station this is in stark contrast to this core soldiering value. Elephants have invaded the Army precincts, and it is ‘Accepted’. From adjoining Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary, in search of habitat and food, they started venturing into the area of Narangi Military Station, a recent phenomenon , about 15 years back.

Come today, some of them are permanent residents of Narangi Military Station, which is sandwiched between Amsang Sanctuary on northern and eastern side and Guwahati ’s growing suburbs on its western side.

           Photo A Gentleman

In adherence to basic soldierly trait of abidance, these Army men here keep propagating the “unwritten”protocol of endearment for elephants, established over the years.

The proclivity of sight is always with these mighty ones, but, I assure you there are plenty of other fauna here which include Golden Langur, Sambars , birds like Oriental Pied, Hornbills, and wide variety of Reptiles to name a few, its a zoo’s variety here.

Photo: Young and Angry Guy

Dubbing the Military Station as “Open Air Zoo” wouldn’t be wrong as it’s a free zone for flourishing wide range of flora and fauna.Lately even a minor count of leopards have recognised the cantonment as a habitat.

“Maharajs’, as elephants are venerably referred, about twenty of these elephants, predominantly males have taken permanent residency of this cantonment, and are the ones who were not able to establish themselves in core area of Amsang Wildlife Santuary. There are some newcomers also , who flock the premises frequently, but supposedly are outstared by occupant elephant inhabitants here. I, identified most resident elephants.

Photo: Waste exploration


For the first time, commuters who enter this ”Open Cantonment for movement of civilians”, rub their eyes to come to reality and are beholden in disbelief by spectacle of these animals who leisurely stroll about the roads.

Interestingly, Guwahati is adored with some tamed elephants who admittedly are permitted by road transport department to form traffic on roads and are commandeered by Mahavats, a “sight for sore eyes “ , as elephants form part of local mythology.

Photo: Playing ROADIES

Many ongoers pay obeisance to these elephants ,as they cognise, and relate them to ‘Lord Ganesha’, supposedly.

Involuntary questions run amok in everyone’s mind, are these hulks here tamed? No.
Are they purely wild? Hmmm. Not exactly.

Photo: Infrastructure Woes

They are not tamed elephants here and are not any Mahavats, but these pachyderms behave as if, they have adapted to human presence.

They have learned to live within restricted space about themselves, to become a part of cantonment gathering. Acceptance of humans is as close as 40 yards from them, here,whereas in wilderness this parameter magnifies to about 200 yards, and only if you transgress the distances at respective places you risk vetting the ‘life line’ , running cogenitally on your palms.

Observing them over the last couple of years I realised the intelligence and ‘Adaptability’ of this animal. As an example, imbibing of road traffic sense, they seemingly have realised the need to waylaid themselves when the traffic is halted, due to their ‘gait’ on roads, flowing inside the cantonment. They are conscious of creating road traffic blocks, clearly.

Ability to wriggle through constricted entrances, which requires unimaginable downscaling of their humongous bodies is bewildering, and is indicative of adaptive body, in which these mammals are wrapped.

Dwelling further into their acts here, we find they are mischievous. Their trunks intercepts smells like a radar, and then they pummel food sources to innocently munch the priced booty ,but not before they negotiate barriers placed around these contended points, by innovating ways.

Noticeably, these elephants exhibit demeanour of “landlords” and “owners”, as they sense ‘Acceptability’ here , but jettison this confidence and behave submissively as they sometimes crossover to human settlements outside. They rightly comprehend that they are not welcome, ‘Not Acceptable’.

Dug out trenches, omnipresent in cantonment, are not for ‘Defence of Duffers Drift’, but for these four legged animals, so that they don’t negotiate them, delineating places to prevent them to cross over. Similarly, the conspicuous wired structures, are also not for ANEs, but are to passively dissuade these “big boys”from attempting to loot the prime contested points here, the food sources.

While there has been one odd known incident of human death due to exercise of prowess of “Maharajs”, it deserves to be mentioned that the circumstances prompted the act of adverse and extreme kind.

I at forefront defend the animal as I have witnessed numerous occasions where there was some sort of ‘coincidental encounters’ between residents and the “Maharajs”here,but conscious abstinence was observed by ‘Maharajs’, not to provide fatal blows in those ‘mismatched’ situations,they known the ‘bump in’ was coincidental not conscious. Surviving such a face off is like winning a bout with ‘Mohammed Ali’, courtesy “Ali”, …..who else?. To admit, I am one of those who have been spared by such a magnanimity of ‘Maharaj’.

If everything is palatable and sweet, something is definitely amiss. Issue of Human Waste, an outgrown side effect of human living, whereby these animals concomitantly eat plastics and other hazardous stuff while failing in attempt to sift human edibles in waste pilings, is first major concern for the health of this animal.

The growing infrastructure here in military station which crisscross the elephant’s movement routes, is another aspect, which overwhelmingly riles the human elephant coexistence here.

The invigoration of ‘Waste Management System’,as well as concept of constructing ‘Gapped’ walls to allow passage to elephants, are on loud thinking among administrators here, still the efforts remain as it is said, ’There’s lot between Cup and the Lip’.

Conceding to my understanding, I spell the co-existence here, as “Human – Elephant Nexus”, and remain shy of pronouncing it as a classic case of “Human – Elephant conflict”, at least as on today, in Narangi Military Station in Guwahati, Assam.

Not by snatching territory, but by some sort of collaboration with the men here, these mammals have hitherto fore, been able to extend their encroached habitat of Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary, which perspicaciously is characterised by notions of “Acceptability and Adaptability”, by the two dominant species here, ‘Man and Elephant’.

As adverse interactions here grow between man and the elephant, which is bound to see ‘hunch out’ of these hulks in near time or reduction in number due to obvious, an anticipated solution for those circumstances as alluded, needs to be scripted and ready for imposition by the State Government of Assam.

(Author is a keen wildlife photographer . The article is based on his first hand experience. )

( The article is solely the opinion of the author. The views expressed here are solely personal and not in any way connected to any organisation or any political party ).

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