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Where to see Wild Elephants in India and the best time of year?

Posted in: India, Posted in: India Wildlife


India wildlife holiday - Where to see Wild Elephants in India and the best time of year to visit?

There are just a few national parks in India which retain viable populations of wild elephants. As with elephants all over the world, these majestic animals used to follow traditional migraton routes over hundreds of miles, based on a memorised annual cycle to exploit the best areas for food and water. With the influence of modern man cutting off the elephants from these vital migration routes, they have been forced to adapt to life in smaller and smaller spaces, with the resulting human/elephant conflict that arises when they stray from the sanctuaries into cultivated lands. On our India wildlife holidays we visit the few remaining national parks such as Corbett, Kaziranga and Periyar, which are still home to substantial elephant populations.

Where to see Elephants in India?

Although there are several smaller parks in India such as Jaldapara in north east India which have wild elephant populations, most visitors to India visit Corbett, Kaziranga or Periyar for a chance to see the second largest land mammal in the world. Probably the most authentic experience can be found at either Corbett tiger sanctuary which is one of our favourite national parks in India. We have been lucky enough to visit 3 times in the last 20 years and each time the experience has been unique and we have managed to see both wild tigers and elephants. Generally in Corbett it becomes 'easier' to see elephants from mid-March onwards; or we can say, as the heat starts to build in India with the start of the summer. At this time the wild elephant population starts its local migration from the forested hills down

What's it like on an elephant safari in Corbett

In Corbett tiger sanctuary you should visit from March onwards as the hotter temperatures bring the elephant herds down from the hills - where water is scarce - to the beautiful Ramnagaga river, where the elephant families will enjoy bathing, drinking and playing together, before moving back into the forests, One of the great experiences of Corbett national park is to be crossing this river with your Mahour on your domesticated elephant, as wild herds either side of you come down to drink - Magical! We are not fans of the shorter elephant safaris that used to be part of the 'tiger show' in central India; where visitors only spent 10-15 minutes on the elephant and there was an aggressive, unethical approach to 'finding' the tiger. Thankfully such elephant safaris have now been banned, but for lovers of forest and wild trekking, there is still something magical about spending 1-2 hours on the back of an elephant in India's few remaining forests. We would always encourage visitors to report any mistreatment of elephants they witness.

What do Asian Elephants eat?

​The short answer to that is a lot! I always marvel at the giant chapatis made at the elephant camps is national parks such as Corbett; which provide supplementary food for these animals with large appetites. That is one of the problems for wild elephants in a world where their forest habitat is shrinking. They don't make the distinction between wild fruits and a farmers melons and a few elephants in one night can put huge financial pressure on multiple families who live off the land. However, I think we need to remember that in most case the elephants were here first and it is not right or ethical to think of them as the pest.

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