A Close Encounter with a Wild Elephant at Minneriya Today


Melissa Schmitt and I at Gnanikkulama, Anuradhapura at the beginning of the tour to Dambana

Melissa Schmitt, a girl from France and I were on course on rusty old Bajaj Boxer motorcycle to Anuradhapura by the evening today. It was around 6.00 pm but it was pitch-dark due to rainy weather. All vehicles were moving with lights on. We were close to Minneriya National Park and our speed was around 50 kmph as the road was not clear enough due to weak headlights of our bike. I was riding close to the middle of the road as it was dangerous to ride close to the edge of the road for fear that wild animals could cross the road and I wouldn’t have enough reaction time to control the bike. Alas! It was then we saw we were riding parallel to a huge wild elephant who was walking majestically towards the same direction we were on. He was less than five feet away from us. I had no time to stop the bike or turn it back and the only option wide open was to continue riding ahead. And we did exactly that. We couldn’t even speed up as the bike’s engine was not good enough to speed up all of a sudden. So, we just managed to pass the majestically walking jumbo without hitting him or getting hit by him. Luckily, Melissa is a brave girl did not panic and just kept her cool. Any other girl would have panicked and screamed but not Melissa. In fact, it was that factor saved both of us from being crushed by the jumbo.

If we panicked and made any sound, the big beast would have reacted and it would have been curtains for both of us. I have no intention of dying, at least not till I reach 55. I am 45 now and I need at least 10 more years to live to complete my mission on this planet. I don’t want to go old and bald and annoy people pretending I am deaf. 55 is a good age to kick the bucket. If Achilles, Hector or Robin Hood lived through their old ages they wouldn’t have been legends today.

A majestic grey elephant