A visit from the Zoo

One day, some strange people came to the camp, in a jeep. I had never seen a car before and I became scared. It roared and moved fast towards us, attacking. I went between mums forelegs, shivering and trumpeting, but she did nothing, just caressed me with her trunk while she was rumbling in communication with the other elephants.

Also the mahouts became a bit uncertain, and whatever they were doing, and wherever they were, they dropped everything and put their hand to their foreheads, like soldiers for their commander.

The strange people were forest officers from Trivandrum, the capital of Kerala state, and on their jeep were signs, reading "Kerala Forest Department".

The forest officers got out of the jeep and came over to us. They spoke to my mahout in a rather harsh, commanding voice, and I could see that he felt uncomfortable. In fact, I smelled that he was scared, which made me feel worse, because I realized that the men were perhaps dangerous.

I had to go around, make some tricks, trumpet, and so on. One of the men fed me sugar cane, and I decided that he was the better of the strangers. He stroked my head, and looked carefully into my eyes, and started to speak:
-Well she has the pearl ring anyway, that's a good sign. Even if she won't be sold abroad I'd like to take her to the Zoo. I didn't know that then, but he was a Veterinarian from the Trivandrum Zoo, and he knew a lot about elephants.

One of the other men answered:
-Sorry, doctor, The Ruhe company wants as many elephants as possible, and we can use the money. He was director of Trivandrum Zoo, and the one who made decisions.
He turned to my mahout and asked:
-Is she still nursing?
-Yes, Sahib. Her mother's got a lot of milk. But she has begun eating some ragi, and eats in the forest, of course.
-Good, very good. Start weaning her. We will take her to Trivandrum within some weeks!
-Yes, Sahib.

Now the Doctor turned at my mahout.
-How are her feet, any problems?
-No Sahib, good feet. Good nails. Would you like to see?
-No. Let her nurse during nighttime, and some every day for three weeks more.
Reduce it gradually, until she only has milk once a day, during the last week, understood?
-Yes, Sahib. But during night when she is with the mother she might nurse anyway, Sir.
-No, She has to be on her own the last two weeks. Understood?
-Yes, very well, Sahib.

Now the oldest mahout addressed the Zoo director:
-Tea will be ready soon, Sir. Do you want to visit Mr. Dawson's grave, Sir?
-Yes why not. He turned to my mahout.
-Bring the baby, also. I want to see if she is properly trained.

We all started to follow the river upwards until we came to a bridge.
They all stopped when I begun to drink from the river.

The story continues...

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