Sloth Bears and a Tusker (Bandipur Stories – 2)

We saw a couple of sloth bears from far away in fading light the first evening. The second morning, we heard that that pair had been spotted again around the same spot again. So, when we headed out on the second evening, we were hopeful of seeing sloth bears. This would be the first time we’d be seeing any bears in the wild. They tend to be nocturnal venturing out only at the fag end of the day around the time the jeeps are returning from their beats.

Again, like the previous day, we went around the jeep tracks not encountering anything. The tank where they had been spotted the previous day was visited and they were not to be found anywhere. Around this time, another vehicle passed by and said that the bears were right on the highway and were bringing traffic to a halt!

So off we went to the highway, encountering more vehicles who said confirmed the same news. Initially, there were just the bears. Then there was a Tusker that was also hanging around the highway. By the time we were close to the highway, it was back to just the bears. The Tusker seemed to have gone into the forest.

We found the bears alright. There were two of them, and were grazing peacefully. They were digging the sand, and sucking out termites from there.
Sloth bears emerging

Sloth bear

Sloth bears

Traffic came to a standstill, including a JCB and a lot of honking ensued. But they did not seem to care and were happy doing what they were doing.
Sloth bears

I even shot a jerky video of them, with all the honks in the background:

This meant that we hung around just enough to shoot some pics and moved right back into the forest. The Tusker was expected to have gone to the waterhole.

A young langur had taken up sentry duties near the forest gates.
Langur sentry

As expected, the Tusker was hanging out at the waterhole just after the gate. He was huge and had massive tusks.
Tusker
We watched him bathe for a while, splashing water onto his body, drinking at times, scratching different parts of the body with his trunk.
Tusker drinking water...

Tusker bathing

Tusker reflecting

Another jerky video I shot. Unfortunately, we had a very shifty group behind us who just could not sit still or be silent.

We hadn’t seen any herds with elephant cows the whole time. This was true of Gaurs too, where only lone bulls were hanging around. Apparently, all the herds had moved towards Mudumalai where the elevation was higher, and the grass better.

The bull then turned around and pooped into the water, before heading out. Tusker poops

We noticed that he had an erection when he came out of the water. He wasn’t in musth though, which we felt was odd. He made his way out and promptly went into the forest.

Horny tusker

Tusker heads into the jungle

After a while, we went looking for other sightings. There weren’t any. But when we got back to the same waterhole, the bears had made it to there. One seemed to be sleeping, the other was digging furiously. We watched them blissfully for close to ten minutes before heading back to try our luck with other sightings.
Sloth bears appear at the water hole

Rest of the pics here:
Bandipur - Dec 2016

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