by Santosh Rajus – Coffee agroforests are home to diverse animals and working along with them is a mystery. You see their trails, marking and scat, but rarely the animals themselves. Following animal tracks is always fun as it always tells a story. Once while following an elephant trail, I could see how the baby elephant had playfully run all over the place, whereas the adults made a straight path without any deviation. Elephants visit coffee agroforests almost every day, What do they do? What do they feed on?
Talking to farmers and observing elephant trails over the years, I found that they feed on jack fruit, fruit trees, and bamboo plants. They also playfully bring down small trees, coffee plants and rub their backs against the same spots in different locations. First, I wanted to see how they get to the jack fruit on the higher branches. I checked the jack fruit trees and found deep tusk marks as if the elephant tried to shake the tree to make the jack fruit fall down or tried standing on two legs to reach the jack fruit on the lower branch. In order to capture these elusive creatures moving in coffee agroforests at night, I set up a few camera traps and was surprised with quite a few visitors. The loner, small Indian civet, Tickell’s blue flycatcher and a happy couple all appeared in the footage.
I could not capture the elephants feeding on the jack fruit tree, but did observe quite a few animals curious about my camera traps who almost took my camera down 🙂 Happy watching the magnificent giants living amongst us in the coffee agroforest.