How A Normal Day With The Garo Elephant Poachers Turned Into A Nightmare

Discussion in 'Articles' started by Kawshik Rahman, Oct 10, 2019.

  1. Kawshik Rahman

    Kawshik Rahman AH Elite

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2019
    Messages:
    1,035
    Video/Photo:
    88
    Likes Received:
    1,628
    As l flip the pages of my albums collected over the last 77 years , l look at each photograph and reminiscize . I go back to that day in my mind. Some memories are pleasant. Some are best forgotten. But there are some which cannot be described in any other word than " Terrifying " . Today , l shall relate to my respected fellow forum members one such account. This is the account of how a normal day with the Garo Elephant poachers turned into a nightmare.
    Screenshot_20191008-223018_01_01_01.png
    Elephant , about to be poached near Buri Ganga river, 1967

    Let us go back now to the year , 1967 and commence with the first part of this three part account.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2019
    gesch, Trogon, Tra3 and 3 others like this.

  2. BenKK

    BenKK AH Elite

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2018
    Messages:
    1,099
    Video/Photo:
    148
    Likes Received:
    1,324
    Location:
    Northern Territory, Australia
    Sounds intriguing. Neat photo.
     
    Kawshik Rahman and Hoss Delgado like this.

  3. Kawshik Rahman

    Kawshik Rahman AH Elite

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2019
    Messages:
    1,035
    Video/Photo:
    88
    Likes Received:
    1,628
    It was November . The season for foreign client Shikaris was over and would not resume until April. However , it was the time when Local Shikaris would go hunting quails and that is exactly what my former partner , the late Karim Chowdhury and l were doing in the Tripani forests . We had our Ishapore Arms 12 bore side by side shot-guns loaded with number 6 cartridges. However , back in those days , one would be lucky to merely go into the forests for shooting quails and to run into only quails. You might be comfortably shooting quails , when you suddenly run into an aggressive boar with imposing tusks , an ill tempered leopard , a bear , a Gaur or even a Royal Bengal tiger. That is why we always , each carried six SG cartridges with us. It is better to err on the side of caution .

    We had a chokra ( servant boy ) from Karim’s household with us who carried a large bag for us to keep the quail birds which we had shot. Quite a sizable amount were shot . On the way back home, we encountered Rhidoy. Rhidoy was a young Garo tribesman who used to work as one of our trackers ( alongside Jedediah ) during Shikar season for us. Rhidoy was carrying quite a donkey’s load , over his shoulder. Curious , as to what our loyal tracker was carrying , he asked him politely. He showed us his possessions. It was four large ram daos and four pick axes. If my dear readers are curious as to what a ram dao is , let me elaborate. A ram dao was a large heavy butchering knife locally made in India and Bangladesh . These are invariably made from the steel of the leaf springs of old vehicles or steel from rail line tracks. Their blades were very flat and could be sharpened effortlessly on any common stone to get sharp as a razor ( although they would also lose sharpness relatively quickly ) . He asked Rhidoy where he was going , and the young man nonchalantly replied that he and his friends were going to poach an elephant. Deciding that there could be worse ways to spend a day , Karim and l decided to send the Chokra home to our mothers with the quail birds. We would be accompanying Rhidoy today to see how he and his kind would poach elephants .
    Now , l must give a comment or two about the Garo tribesmen poaching elephants. Karim and l never poached any animals ourselves. Even though , l would like to tell my forum members that this was for ethical reasons, l would be lying if l said so. The concept of ethics would not permeate into my mind until many years later. No. We were terrified of losing our Shikari Licenses if word of such activities had reached the Nilgiri Wild Life Association. However , when the Garo tribesmen would poach elephants , Karim and l would look the other way. This was because we wanted to maintain a good relationship with these people. We were dependent upon them for their unrivalled tracking skills . In fact , l dare say that over 70 % of our successful Shikars were possible , only because of the persistence of our loyal Garo trackers.
    And thus , we followed Rhidoy , as he made his way towards another part of the forest.
    This seemingly mundane day would end up becoming far more macabre.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 4, 2019
    Red Leg, Trogon, Tra3 and 5 others like this.

  4. JPbowhunter

    JPbowhunter AH Fanatic

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2013
    Messages:
    825
    Video/Photo:
    50
    Likes Received:
    822
    Keen to hear how this turns out.

    I'm no expert on elephants (obviously!) But those elephants I would have picked as african due to the size of ears and shape of head. Do they vary a lot across india?
     
    Kawshik Rahman and Hoss Delgado like this.

  5. Hoss Delgado

    Hoss Delgado AH Fanatic

    Joined:
    May 5, 2019
    Messages:
    926
    Video/Photo:
    17
    Likes Received:
    576
    Yeah , bro :) last time l was there , l saw many different varieties in India , Bangladesh and Sri Lanka :) . The ones in Sri Lanka are probably the smallest . The tame ones in India look different from the wild ones . And the ones in central India look EXACTLY like that :D
     
    Kawshik Rahman and Hammergun like this.

  6. Hoss Delgado

    Hoss Delgado AH Fanatic

    Joined:
    May 5, 2019
    Messages:
    926
    Video/Photo:
    17
    Likes Received:
    576
    Mr. Rahman , is this the one which ended up becoming a scene from a horror film ? :(
     
    Kawshik Rahman likes this.

  7. Wyatt Smith

    Wyatt Smith AH Enthusiast

    Joined:
    May 9, 2019
    Messages:
    395
    Video/Photo:
    4
    Likes Received:
    364
    Location:
    Pike county
    I have a friend who owns a knife made of Volkswagen leaf spring. It looks like a prop from “Crocodile Dundee”
     
    Kawshik Rahman likes this.

  8. Kawshik Rahman

    Kawshik Rahman AH Elite

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2019
    Messages:
    1,035
    Video/Photo:
    88
    Likes Received:
    1,628
    We kept following Rhidoy until he had reached the area of the forest which was near a shallow part of the Buri Ganga River . Rhidoy had a dozen fellow Garo tribesmen there who were waiting for them. Half of them carried Jinjalls . These were crudely built , locally made matchlock muzzle loading muskets with smooth bore barrels up to five feet in length. They would take a moulded round lead bullets of between two and three ounces in weight and were used by the Garo poachers for taking all of their illegal quarry. Rhidoy proudly presented his comrades with the four ram daos and pick axes which he had brought. Some of the tribesmen held ropes . Some held large buckets. The tribesmen discussed their plan of action. They were going to kill an Indian bull elephant.
    I would like to add to my dear readers here that a major difference exists between the Indian species and the African species of elephant. I am told by my learned young forum member and friend , Hoss Delgado that , in Africa , both the male and female elephant can have tusks . In India , however , the female invariably lacks tusks and it is only some bull elephants which carry tusks. Therefore , it was the bull elephants which were subject to the Garo tribesmen's poaching activities.
    A herd of elephants could be seen on the other side of the river. Any professional Shikari or person who has seen plenty of elephants with their own eyes , will know that elephant herds typically comprise of mostly females and immature elephants. These were no good to the poachers. However , a few bull elephants with tusks were in the water of the Buri Ganga river , refreshing themselves .
    Screenshot_20191008-223018_01_01_01.png

    Karim and l were mere spectators of what happened next . The Jinjall wielding Garo poachers quietly observed the actions of the two or three bull elephants in the water. Most of them were now lazily making their way towards the herd which was quietly moving away. However , one of the bull elephants was lagging behind the others . The poachers lit the fuses on their matchlock guns and got them ready for firing. They anxiously waited as the elephant began to make it's way towards the herd. Poachers began to cautiously approach the Bull Elephant and then one of them fired his Jinjall at the fore leg of the beast. There was a tremendous noise as the smoke of barodh ( Black gun powder ) hung in the air . We heard a sickening snap sound and a loud falling noise , with the splash of water . The fore leg of the bull elephant had broken , and any person who has hunted elephants before , will know that an elephant ( on account of it's great weight ) will not be able to move if it has a broken fore leg. Such an injury would not stop a Gaur as it could still escape with a broken fore leg. But if the fore leg of an elephant is broken by a bullet , then it cannot move and is quite easy to dispatch. About half a dozen poachers them approached the poor elephant , cautious to avoid it's trunk. At distances of five yards or less , they began discharging their Jinjalls at the poor creature's head from the side . Those two ounce moulded lead bullets , driven by half an ounce of locally made black powder were no good for shooting an elephant from the front in it's head. However , they could reach the brain of the elephant if they were fired at the side of the head where the bone is thin at close distances. The creature was dead. Karim and l were both grudgingly amazed and nauseatingly sickened by the tactic which the poachers had used. It was highly effective , but extremely cruel and inhumane. They had exploited the natural biological weakness of the elephant and it's inability to move on three legs , to cripple it before closing in and finishing it off.
    Fifteen minutes later , the Garo tribesmen were busy working to remove the tusks from the dead bull elephant while others were using their ram daos to try and remove all the meat that they could carry from the corpse of the elephant. All this was occurring in an area of the river where the water reached up to one's knees. All of a sudden , from out of the blue , a crocodile got ahold of one of the tribesmen and dragged the wretched young man into the water by the leg. Karim and l were white with fear , as the Garo tribesmen realized what was happening . Panic had broken out.
     
    Red Leg, Trogon, Tra3 and 3 others like this.

  9. Ridgewalker

    Ridgewalker AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2016
    Messages:
    4,904
    Video/Photo:
    196
    Likes Received:
    4,669
    Location:
    Colorado
    Hunted:
    South Africa: Limpopo, Northwest; USA: Ak, Mt, Wy, Co, Ne, Ks, Nv, NM, Tx
    Kawshik, you left us hanging to find out the rest!
    Oops! Wrote too soon!

    Yes this is a bit of an upsetting tale!
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2019
    Kawshik Rahman likes this.

  10. Kawshik Rahman

    Kawshik Rahman AH Elite

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2019
    Messages:
    1,035
    Video/Photo:
    88
    Likes Received:
    1,628
    In my career as a professional Shikari , l have killed a reasonable variety of dangerous animals : Leopards , Gaur , Royal Bengal tiger , bear , boars and wild dogs . I have always respected every animal that l have ever fired my gun at . This even includes man eating leopards and Royal Bengal tigers. I always strived to give them a quick , clean death. However , there is one creature in this world which l have no respect for . It is the crocodile. Mother used to consider them devil lizards and even though l am not superstitious , l am inclined to agree with her. Normally , when one is attacked by a leopard or a Royal Bengal tiger , the beast tried to bite and claw you to your death. If one is attacked by a wild dog , it will attempt to bite you to death. If one is attacked by a Gaur , it will attempt to engage you with it's horns or trample you to death . If one is attacked by an Indian bear , it will charge at you and attempt to bit you and place it's fore paws on top of you. These attacks are instinctive and not very meticulously planned out ( barring a wounded leopard of course ) . However , it is the crocodile which is the most malicious and devious in it's way of killing. A crocodile will grab it's wretched victim in it's jaws and attempt to pull them down into the water and drown them. It is only after drowning them , that they will take the lifeless corpse to a hole and eat it. I have no respect for the crocodile and have dispatched them by any means at my disposal whenever l had to , without worrying about ethics . I apologise to my fellow forum members for my unethical view in this one aspect . However , l unashamedly admit that l find crocodiles very macabre , even at this age of 77 years.

    The Garo tribesmen , Karim and l were over taken by panic as the terrified Garo victim was getting dragged by the crocodile. I gripped my shot-gun to fire . However , Karim stopped me forcefully. And l am glad that he did.
    As my learned forum member and fellow professional Shikari from Africa, IvW wisely points out , a shot-gun is a foul weapon to have , if an animal gets ahold of your comrade. Bear in mind. An SG cartridge has nine pellets . If you fire at the animal , your chances of not hitting your comrade are nigh unlikely . However , these Garo tribesmen were as brave as lions and they took care of each other like brothers. They immediately began to hack away at the head of the beast with their ram daos . While it did not kill it , this was enough to make them release the wretched young man.
    Karim and l seized our chance . " Shoro ! " We yelled ( move away ) . We opened fire at the head of the creature at a distance of ten feet. Those SG pellets treated with wax , definitely hit the head of the creature. However , it was disturbing that a we could actually see a large number of SG pellets deflecting on it's head. We got even closer . We were firing and we were reloading. We were firing and we were reloading . Finally , the beast moved no more . This was fortunate too. As l mentioned previously , we were not expecting to hunt any dangerous animals today and so each of us only had six SG cartridges with us . By the time the beast stopped moving , l had expended all my ammunition and Karim only had one SG cartridge left.
    Screenshot_20191010-225000.png
    The devil lizard which nearly brought us much grief.
    Thank you to Karim's son , Rassell for providing me with this photo by using electronic mail.
    We turned to tend to the young Garo tribesman who was badly bitten in the leg by the beast.
    The Epilogue will follow
     
    gesch, Trogon, Hank2211 and 3 others like this.

  11. Ridgewalker

    Ridgewalker AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2016
    Messages:
    4,904
    Video/Photo:
    196
    Likes Received:
    4,669
    Location:
    Colorado
    Hunted:
    South Africa: Limpopo, Northwest; USA: Ak, Mt, Wy, Co, Ne, Ks, Nv, NM, Tx
    I have only taken one crocodile, but it was a hunt I would like to do again. A prehistoric lizard is fascinating to me! Of course if one had hold of one of my legs, I may have second thoughts.
    Glad you and Karim were able to help save the young man.
     
    Kawshik Rahman likes this.

  12. Kawshik Rahman

    Kawshik Rahman AH Elite

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2019
    Messages:
    1,035
    Video/Photo:
    88
    Likes Received:
    1,628
    The young Garo tribesman had lost a great deal of blood. We all helped him to the land and attempted to stop his bleeding. Rhidoy eventually had to amputate that man's leg with a Ram Dao after cleaning it with my ethanol bottle.
    ( It was a very disturbing sight for me at the time ) after tying rope tightly above the wound in an attempt to staunch the bleeding . A Ram dao's blade was heated over a fire and used to cauterize the bleeding stump in an attempt to stop the bleeding. The poor Garo man had vommitted in pain and lost consciousness. Karim and l helped those tribesmen in every way we could . How that man survived the ordeal without getting an infection or dying from blood loss , l cannot say. However , not only did he survive , but he was merrily hobbling around on a wooden crutch the next time l had seen him. Perhaps , there is someone watching over us all from the heavens , after all. However , l am glad that we were able to save him.
    The Crocodile was big among Darjeeling crocodile standards . It had taken 11 SG cartridges to kill it. Upon examination , we found that majority of these SG pellets had failed to reach the brain of of the animal . It was only the last shot , fired at point blank distance into it's eye which had produced the desired results . This was no doubt placed by my good friend , Karim , who was , in every way , a better Shikari than l . In fact , it still terrifies me that l was going to shoot at that beast while it had gotten ahold of that young man. I would have murdered him due to the spread of an SG cartridge fired from a shot-gun with no choke . Upon cutting open the stomach of the beast , we were most surprised to find a large mass of human hair and bangles , of the kind worn by our village girls. I was disgusted at the sight. A few days ago , a village girl had been reported as missing in Darjeeling. She had last been seen going near the Buri Ganga river to wash clothes ( a common practice during my youth among poor villagers ) and she had never come back. To see a picture of the effect ( or lack thereof ) of SG shot on the head of this large crocodile , please read the upcoming book " A hobby called Hunting " written by my young friend and fellow forum member , Hoss Delgado.
    The Garo tribesmen would continue to poach two elephants a year this way , but it was not until Indira Gandhi banned legal hunting , that poaching increased to rancid levels and became a significant threat to wild life.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2019
    ChrisPy, Red Leg, gesch and 5 others like this.

  13. Kawshik Rahman

    Kawshik Rahman AH Elite

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2019
    Messages:
    1,035
    Video/Photo:
    88
    Likes Received:
    1,628
    BenKK
    Thank you so much for your support.
     

  14. BenKK

    BenKK AH Elite

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2018
    Messages:
    1,099
    Video/Photo:
    148
    Likes Received:
    1,324
    Location:
    Northern Territory, Australia
    Wow! Incredible story, thank you! Glad you got the mischievous lizard!
     
    Kawshik Rahman likes this.

  15. Kawshik Rahman

    Kawshik Rahman AH Elite

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2019
    Messages:
    1,035
    Video/Photo:
    88
    Likes Received:
    1,628
    JPbowhunter
    Thank you so much for your support . You are correct in your speculation. There are four or five varieties of elephants in India which have different shapes ears and heads. However , they all have one fact in common. The female will not grow tusks . Only some males will grow tusks. That is what differenciates them from the African variety . I am also impressed by your observations. Elephants with this type of head are commonly only found in Darjeeling and Tamil Nadu. In other parts of India , their head shape is visibly different.
     
    JPbowhunter and BenKK like this.

  16. Kawshik Rahman

    Kawshik Rahman AH Elite

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2019
    Messages:
    1,035
    Video/Photo:
    88
    Likes Received:
    1,628
    BenKK
    Thank you so much for your kind words. I will respect every animal for ever . That is our duty as Shikaris. However , you must forgive me for crocodiles. I find them evil
     

  17. Kawshik Rahman

    Kawshik Rahman AH Elite

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2019
    Messages:
    1,035
    Video/Photo:
    88
    Likes Received:
    1,628
    Ridge Walker
    Thank you so much for your kind words. Crocodiles were viewed as vermin in our time , and l estimate that l must have killed upwards of forty of them with Karim when we used to sell their skins to the Chennai merchants. I am glad that you enjoyed your hunt. Is it the magnificent specimen in your picture ?
    I admire your attitude . You have a far positive outlook on them than l do. I love hunting them as well , but l must confess that it is the one creature that unsettles me even at this age.
     
    Ridgewalker likes this.

  18. Kawshik Rahman

    Kawshik Rahman AH Elite

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2019
    Messages:
    1,035
    Video/Photo:
    88
    Likes Received:
    1,628
    Wyatt Smith
    I love knives . Please do send me a picture of it at your convenience. In Bangladesh , l do not buy imported knives anymore as they are all stainless steel , which does not lend itself to easy sharpening in the field . Therefore l purchase locally made knives from spring steel which can be sharpened very easily.
     

  19. Kawshik Rahman

    Kawshik Rahman AH Elite

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2019
    Messages:
    1,035
    Video/Photo:
    88
    Likes Received:
    1,628
    H
    Hoss Delgado
    This is the story.
     

  20. Wyatt Smith

    Wyatt Smith AH Enthusiast

    Joined:
    May 9, 2019
    Messages:
    395
    Video/Photo:
    4
    Likes Received:
    364
    Location:
    Pike county
    I will take a picture next time I visit him and send you. I’m no expert on crocs, but that one looked pretty big to me. It’s a shame the man lost his leg, I’m glad however it was not worse. I grew up watching Steve Irwin on TV (I’m 22) and am very fascinated by these animals. I might feel differently if I had to live with them however.
     

Share This Page

 
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice