Chitwan National Park is one of Nepal’s treasures. We had heard about the jungle walks, native dance shows and elephant rides from the moment we entered the country. After our Annapurna hike and yoga ashram, it was our turn to see this jungle reserve for ourselves.
The day before we boarded our bus from the lakeside town of Pokhara, we had dinner with a couple from Bath, England who told us of their recent encounters in Chitwan. Walking on a narrow dirt path through tall, jungle grasses, their four-person group was surprised by a sloth bear. This animal, known for its long claws, was just as shocked by the tourists, who were hidden by the greenery, and lashed out at the guide with a growl. The entire group turned and sprinted as quickly as possible, but then realized that the guide was not with them. They heard his screams for help and returned to find his leg badly gashed, so the English couple wrapped him in their shirts and lifted him out of the jungle track and into a vehicle, rushing him to the hospital. After skin grafting and a few surgeries, the guide will be back to work in three months. On our arrival we heard the story from this guide’s brother, confirming the tale. This whole episode was followed by other crazy stories and we learned that the guides in Chitwan earn “bragging rights” when they survive wild beasts, and love to mention that they “saved tourists from the animals!” Continue reading “Caring for Elephants”