The old tree stands tall. Wooden stairs coil around it like a vine, leading up to the hut-like machaan (wildlife observation post) high among the branches. The machaan, painted a leafy green, is situated with a clear view of the waterhole. Our jeep looks tiny from where we sit. The prevailing stillness is infused with a symphony of mysterious jungle noises. With packed sandwiches, water bottles, binoculars and camera, we settle down for the long wait. This is the only waterhole that has not gone dry this winter. Remembering the fresh droppings we had seen on the way, we are confident the elephant herd will turn up.
Attracted by food, a swarm of tiny insects hovers above us. I swallow at least one while yawning. Trying to wave them away, I hit my face. As I feel something wet, my brother shouts that I am bleeding through the nose. I tilt my head back; ten minutes and many bloody tissues later, the flow finally stops. Completely shaken, we now watch the trees for leopards that may have caught the smell of blood. Nothing turns up. It is evening and we have lost hope of a sighting. Looking frequently toward the pool, we slowly get ready to leave.
an antlered stag
|dying light -
a lunge for the camera
spooks the shot