Elephant riding, Harness squeak
NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
27 Mar 2001
- Chitwan National Park; The Nepal Conservation Research Training Centre
- 27.5 84.33333
Stereo=1; Spaced Omni Stereo; DPA 4060 Omnidirectional Microphones
Log of DAT #: 05
Engineer: Bill McQuay
Date: April 2001
ng = not good
ok = okay
g = good
vg = very good
1:55 Car idling, shouts¿
2:30 ¿ 5:10 Kitchen ambi
5:13 5:30 in the morning and we¿re standing in essentially a base camp, at the base of the Himalayas. But we¿re not going up the mountain. We¿re going someplace that some people think is even more exciting than going to the top of the world¿s biggest mountain¿ This is the headquarters of the King Mahendra Trust on the outskirts of Chitwan National Park. (loud kitchen guy) The guys walking in and out of the kitchen around us are elephant drivers, which is really a skill, let me tell you. And we are going out on a round-up of sorts, kind of a Pleistocene round-up, to look for an animal that is, technically a wild cow, but it¿s like no cow anybody¿s ever seen. Weights 2000 pounds, has a horn that can be more than 3 feet long, is extremely rare, and, believe me, not easy to move.
6:45 Do you want to see the elephant stable?¿
7:50 Walking pass trucks
8:07 These are the trucks, and you can see the cages there, inside. These are the cages and the land today at least 2 or 3 to take a look at
8:50 ¿Sledges 2 Sledges and 4 of these cages. They will be using these cages for transportation. So once we capture the Rhino, it will go to Bardia. And the same cage will come back, on the same truck, to be used. Sometimes you can not use the cage a second time. If the rhino is too violent. Yeah, they are wooden and they are made out of sal. Best timber in Nepal.
10:30 Talk about mics¿
11:17 Elephant stable fire, these are the people who care for the elephant stable, and they burn this fire all night.
11:55 Elephant stable fire ambi ¿ 12:10 voices, slurping
14:04 The best known base camp in Nepal, maybe in the world, is halfway up the Himalayas. But here at the base of the Himalayas is another base camp. We¿re about to set out on an expedition that some people think is more exciting, certainly more important, than getting to the top if the world¿s highest mountain. We¿re going to go capture some rhinos. Sitting around the fire with a bunch of rhino drivers¿ sitting around the fire with a bunch of elephant drivers. Believe me, that¿s a skill. The elephants are right nearby, I can see them over there, 5 or 6 of them. We are going to use 15 today. We are going to leave the King Mahendra Trust Research Center, head of into Chitwan National Park in Nepal, surround rhinos, hit them with a drug that knocks them out (I hope), load it into a truck and drive it to another park. I¿ll explain why later. But right now we¿re drinking coffee, trying to get the energy up so that we¿re prepared when all hell breaks loose later.
15:39 Breakfast ambi ¿ lots of coughing and spitting, talking, 16:05 ¿ vg chimes, birds, old man, and dripping water.
17:08 Moving over to where they are getting the elephant ready.
17:31 Zup-zups, whuffing, elephant-slapping sounds
19:07 these elephants all have handlers, and it looks like their handlers put them through a bit of calisthenics in the morning. The great big guy, about 5 feet from me just rolled over, had the dirt kicked off him, now they¿re putting a saddle on him. Actually they¿re not. Knocking off all that dust¿ It¿s a real cliché to say you feel like you¿ve walked into a time warp. But we¿re living a cliché right now. Actually, it looks like the elephants walked out of a time warp, and it only gets more so.
20:09 Birds, elephant dusting, 20:20 ¿ background engine dies out, less elephant slapping.
26:20 How are we going to get out there? ¿ recording logistics¿
27:06 It¿s pretty cool; you¿re sitting there with those guys, in the fire, at base camp, waiting for all hell to break loose¿
27:38 New elephant: ringing chains, soft snuffling, greetings (namaste)
28:20 Talking w/ elephant wrangler
29:06 Looks like these handlers are pretty tight with the elephants¿ we have to go¿
28:50 More recording logistics¿
29:55 g Cry of rooster ancestor, followed by closer bird¿talking w/ good bird¿ engine in background¿
34:10 More talking, engine, birds¿
36:24 (Loud engine behind) Around the corner from the elephants, a group of vets are loading the cartridges that will go in the guns, with a substance called M-99, which is something like morphine. They are putting a lot in. Well, basically, they¿re putting enough in to knock out a rhino. Cartridges go in the bear rifles, rifles goes with a shooters, shooters get up on the elephants. Supposed to be like clockwork.
37:33 When a rhino does go down, these guys act a little bit like a really good pit crew at a Nascar race. They are off the elephants, taking measurements, taking blood samples, figuring out how big the teeth are, and generally figuring out how to get the rhino up into the trunk where it can be moved in faster than you could think is possible.
38:00 That¿s not usable¿
38:45 Mounting the elephants, talking w/ handler¿
40:33 Look, there they go, 15 elephants lined up in a row¿standing here under the stand you use to board the elephant.
43:23 Getting on elephant (no sound)
51:38 Loud engines, yelling
53:30 Riding ¿ leather squeaking, birds, speaking up and down the line (all soft)
56:28 vg elephants in the water
1:02:30 Moving through grass and woodland ¿ snapping twigs, birds
1:06:55 Good snapping branches and grass
1:07:35 Distant trumpeting, screechy birds.
1:10:32 More good riding sound in grass, w/ birds
1:11:57 g Nepalese walky-talky on right channel
1:16:08 Isolated bird
1:16:30 Rude elephant noises
1:22:48 Distant tone begins, heavy brush noises
1:25:01 Walky-talky, loud brush, jingling harness
1:28:02 More brush and harness squeaks, but a new variety of distant bird
1:29:48 Louder, chirpy birds, several together
1:35:28 vg Loud peacock cry (during Nepalese conversation)
1:36:30 ok peacock cry (alone)
1:37:45 Two peacocks ¿ far and nearer
1:38:33 Spotting rhino
1:39:10 END DAT 5