Tales of our Elephant Sundarkali and her Mahout Jung Bahadur

Elephant camp is a place of live activity every day. It’s a unique place where you enjoy feel neglected. The place has four elephants and their eight mahouts along with an elephant camp in-charge. Surprisingly as I write this I realize, the character sketch of elephant and their Mahout has shocking similarities!

Sunderkali & Mahout  Jung Bahadur

‘Jung-ae’ the mahout who rides Sundarkali, caress the unkempt thick forehead hair of his elephant Sundarkali (English – the beautiful lady), telling her anecdotes which she does not care a dime about. Junge (Jung Bahadur) is our most notorious mahout care taker for our equally notorious Sundarkali elephant.  To be around them is like being a displaced middle point between two parallels. Sundarkali is difficult when Jung-ae is not around, will prefer going alone for river baths instead of having ‘some other elephants’ mahout to ride her! At one incident she nodded off the very talented camp manager into the river and starting bathing herself in the middle of Rapti River and returned to the camp all by herself.

Likewise Jung-ae would postpone all his work to tomorrow and spend most of the day with her beloved Sundarkali. They certainly are each others’ best friends with endless stories of Rhinos and their own little secrets when they both go missing from the camp in pursuit of some wild berries growing in the adjacent community forest. Whoever may pluck them, but they are always shared in ‘3 portions for her and 1 for him’.  Both enjoy the bitterness of the fruit!


Sundarkali is young. Many say she has got the best looks – a broad forehead, a small round body with perfectly curled eyelashes and the most curious trunk of all. She has her own specific fitness regime that she picks for herself every day during her jungle trips. Guests get amused by her perfect skills to pluck, clean and pop small portions of succulent grass from the field. She would roll her trunk close the roots, grab them all and pluck it with one stroke pull. Then comes the cleaning, she would lift her left leg a feet above the ground and give counted graceful strokes to clear off the dust and then it’s ready to eat. More fond of the roots then the shoot, she would eat the lower half of the grass and wisely stack aside the leftovers. She does this every time, with same grace and placidness. Ignorant too many a fans she makes each time by her acts.

Courtesy: Vineeta Yadav

Related Article : Living with the Elephants – Life of a Mahout

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