Elephants in Rishikesh, India

We spent 50 days from late March to early May at the Swami Rama Ashram a little south of Rishikesh. The Ganges River flows in front of us there. I took the following series of pictures there.

Elephant in Ganges.
As we sat in our rooms one afternoon, Petra noticed movement on the far banks of the river. At first she thought it was a cow. Then she saw the ears flap and couldn’t believe what she thought she was seeing. She came out of her room for a clearer look. Then she called into my room and said, “Look at the Elephant bathing over there.” It was on the other side of the Ganges below a high cliff bank of the river on the edge of a dense forest (or “jungle” as they call forests here). He lazed there for some time throwing water over himself with his trunk now and then. (24 Mar 2015)
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Snack on the Ganges.
Finally, he made his way out. He walked onto the bank and reached up and tore off a trunk full of vines and ate them. For ten minutes he leisurely munched on that greenery and then moved over and completely denuded another bush. (24 Mar 2015)
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Elephant on Ganges.
What tusks! He has escaped poachers for his long life. (24 Mar 2015)
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Watching an elephant.
People sat on the walkway along our side of the Ganges in front of our room and watched the elephant on the far side (at the low spot on the cliff here). If the elephant was looking for a way back to the jungle, he didn't like the one immediately in front of him here. (24 Mar 2015)
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Elephant on the rocks.
He continued walking along the rocks of the bank for some distance until he finally returned to the water where he moved along more smoothly and, I assume, more easily. (24 Mar 2015)
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Returning to forest.
He went far down the river before disappearing into the jungle. (24 Mar 2015)
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Elephant on the Ganges in Rishikesh, India.
Two and a half weeks later on a hot afternoon we spotted another elephant across and a little upriver from our room. The river was low and the elephant was out on the mud flats drinking and dowsing itself with water. (10 Apr 2015)
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Elephant bathing.
He had already thrown water over his back and was in the process of throwing the next trunk load. This one had only one tusk.(10 Apr 2015)
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Elephants crossing Ganges in Rishikesh.
Six days later we spotted a group of three or four crossing the river to a wildlife island. They could have crossed to where we were but I never saw them doing so. I expect they knew what was their land and what was the peoples' land.(16 April 2015)
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An Elephant herd on the Ganges in Rishikesh.
Two weeks later late one afternoon, we spotted an elephant herd of several cows, two calves, and a bull on the banks of the low river. They had washed themselves leaving light spots where they missed with the water. (3 May 2015)
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Elephants along the Ganges.
The group headed north through the woods along the edge of the river. (3 May 2015)
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Elephant watching the watchers in Rishikesh.
They stopped in a clearing and the bull turned and looked at the crowd across the river watching them. (3 May 2015)
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Elephant crosses Ganges.
As the sun got lower, the bull left the herd and crossed the Ganges to the wildlife island. (3 May 2015)
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So how many elephants are in that “jungle” across the river? We had heard that there were few or none any more. Now we know we have seen at least six and two calves. The other three may have been the same ones we saw at another time. Suffice it to say, that “jungle” can support a lot of animals if it can support that many elephants. Maybe there is even a tiger or two in there. I know there are a lot of peacocks and peahens. We heard them all the time.

Added picture May 2015.
Copyright © 2015 Mike Metras, www.PilgrimageCreations.com