From the jungles of Arunachal Pradesh come two elephant stories that speak for themselves about the human side of this beast. Elephants are the largest of animals that have survived on earth. But they are said to be fairly faithful and intelligent.
A few years ago when shifting cultivation was in practice, a group of tribals drove out the elephants from a green jungle and killed a calf by accident. The elephant went berserk and they made life miserable for the tribals. They attacked the huts of the tribals. Once a tribal child was left behind. The elephants, instead of killing the toddler first picked him up and put him on a rock safely. After that the elephants destroyed the encampment. An elephant stood guard till the crying mother gathered the body to her bosom. The tribals learnt a lesson and made peace with the wild elephants. The second incident is also a true story from the same jungles. It gives an insight into the elephant’s sense of humour and his love for country liquor. But this story is about a tamed elephant.
The female elephant was taking a group of visitors into the thick jungles. That sunny morning, as a visiting forest officer was climbing on to the howdah, the elephant did a right-about-turn and almost knocked down the visitor. Nobody could explain the unusual behavior of the beast.
After spending nearly half a day in the jungle, the tourists were brought back to the forest lodge. It was only then that the forest officer discovered the loss of his bag, heavy with currency notes. It was just impossible to trace it in the dense undergrowth of the forest. The elephant tapped him on the shoulder and held out the missing purse. As the joyous forest officer tried to take it, he elephant withdrew his trunk and continued to tease him. The mahaout explained that the animal was demanding `baksheesh`, a bottle of country liquor. In the whole day doing hard job earns a bottle of country liquor. That day the clever elephant earned two bottles of arrack. The forest officer was only happy to get his wallet back.