As announcing sightings goes, Suren’s was a bit of a mix of anticlimax and irony, as a he turned towards us with a thoughtful expression on his face and announced he could have sworn he had just seen a tusker approaching through the bush as we whizzed past. Sumudhu and the tracker seemed a bit nonplussed by this casual announcement but we nonetheless backed up quickly to investigate.
The heat hadn’t gotten to Suren’s head as he had indeed spotted a rather magnificent tusker coming towards the road. Silently one of the Kings of Yala emerged from the brush onto the road. Along with the leopard and bear, the tuskers of Yala are another iconic animal for the wildlife enthusiast. I was brought up on pictures, stories and very occasional sightings of the famous tuskers of the park such as the now dead (mostly from being killed for their ivory) behomeths such as Kublai Kahn and the Podi and Loku Pootuwas (cross-tuskers). This particular tusker was Gemunu, not a tusker with the most impressive tusks that I have seen, but an absolutely massive male with a breathtaking presence about him.
Silently and confidently he walked down the dusty, red road. The afternoon light glowed around him as we stared in awe. We appeared to far to lowly for him to take any interest in us and even when he came level and we started the engine to go forward he didn’t take much notice except to step off the road. We stared at him in awe as he walked around the road for another ten minutes before taking leave of us and stepping back into the bush.