Jungle death on horns of Bull Gore: Lucky escape | Bangkok Post: learning

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Jungle death on horns of Bull Gore: Lucky escape

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After 48 years in Thai forests photographer meets face-to-face with angry Bull Gaur, forced to do some quick thinking. 

My first encounter with a bull gaur.

Click button to listen to Red Gaur Brush with Death download 

WILDLIFE

A brush with death in the bush

An unforgettable encounter with an irate bull gaur in the Western Forest Complex
26/06/2013
L. Bruce Kekule

Gaur cow at a mineral deposit.

About two weeks ago, I hit the jackpot after 48 years in Thai forests. I was alone and it was raining... I had just set a camera trap at a trailhead...

As I was walking in to set a few more traps, I spotted some fresh gaur tracks and judging from their size, concluded that they were those of a big mature bull. I went in a little bit more and decided to turn back as the bush was really thick and it was getting late.

I had gone about 50m and all of a sudden, a bull gaur no more than 6m away snorted at me. I snorted back thinking he would run away. In the next moment, this huge beast punched through the bush with its head down in the classic position to hook bad people and throw them into the trees.

I saw the right horn base for a fraction of a second and it took me another fraction of a second to do the only thing possible and that was to drop down to the left and lie flat on my stomach with my head down. The bull jumped over my legs and then circled around to carry on its business of trying to kill me.

Gaur bull camera trapped at the trailhead.

For what seemed like a lifetime, I heard him thrashing around breaking saplings and stamping on the ground some 10 to 15m away. A second charge was imminent and could be disastrous if he used his hooves to trample me. Only one thing would save me now.

I quickly pulled out my pistol, loaded it and let off a shot in the air, all the while still lying down. After the report a few seconds later, the bull high-tailed it, crashing off into the forest behind me. Wow, that was a close encounter and truly a heart-stopper.

I stayed on the ground for quite a while to make sure he was really gone.

In all my years in the forest, I have never been this close to a gaur or had the experience of a charging bull. There was no telling if this old bovid had been shot and wounded previously by poachers, and that he really hated humans. Or was he just an old guy with a bad temper and considered me a threat when I barked back at him. I will never really know how close I came to instant death.

Many a Thai hunter has been killed by gaur because they froze in their tracks and just stood there not reacting in time. I have read in several books that the only way to avert death is to drop down flat with your head down low, or have a very large calibre rifle ready. I had a Nikon D7000 and a 70-300 VR lens.

How did I react so fast and survive? I have one man to thank. He is my dear old friend Gordon Young, author of the book Tracks Of An Intruder, a classic tome about hunting in northern Thailand in the 50s. He talks about the evasive action needed in this urgent situation in a chapter about a man-killer bull gaur in Mae Salak in Chiang Mai. I certainly thought of him right after this. I feel extremely lucky to have survived this attack and it was absolutely the most exciting experience that I have ever had, bar none... [Read the rest of the article here]

Visit www.brucekekule.com

(Source: Bangkok Post, WILDLIFE, A brush with death in the bush An unforgettable encounter with an irate bull gaur in the Western Forest Complex, 26/06/2013, L. Bruce Kekule, link)

Pair of gaur bulls on the run.


Wildlife Vocabulary 

bull gaur - a large animal that lives in India and Southeast Asia but it quickly disappearing: "the population decline in parts of the species' range is likely to be well over 70% during the last three generations. Population trends are stable in well-protected areas, and are rebuilding in a few areas which had been neglected. The gaur is the tallest species of wild cattle" (See Wikipedia)

wildlife - animals, birds and plants that live in the forest or other natural conditions สัตว์ป่า

Western Forest Complex - the forest area along the Thailand-Burma border from Kanchanaburi to Maesot to Maehongson (See Wikipedia)

brush - 1. when something almost happens; 2. when something touches lightly while passing 
brush with death

bush - an area of land with lots of bushes and trees which has never been farmed
in the bush

a brush with death in the bush

encounter - a meeting, especially one that happens by chance การเผชิญหน้า
an unforgettable encounter

irate - very angry โกรธ,โมโห
an irate bull gaur

An unforgettable encounter with an irate bull gaur in the Western Forest Complex

jackpot -
a large amount of money won in gambling or a card game
hit the jackpot - win in gambling

camera trap - a remotely operated camera, "a camera that is equipped with a motion sensor or an infrared sensor, or uses a light beam as a trigger. Camera trapping is a method for capturing wild animals on film when researchers are not present" (See Wikipedia)

trail -
a path or walkway through the forest or wild area ทางเดิน ทางดิน ทางแคบๆที่เดินได้
trailhead - the beginning of a trail; the point at which a trail begins

About two weeks ago, I hit the jackpot after 48 years in Thai forests. I was alone and it was raining... I had just set a camera trap at a trailhead...

tracks -
marks that an animal or person leaves on the ground (when they walk through a place) ร่องรอยทางเดิน
gaur tracks

fresh - new
fresh gaur tracks

spotted - seen; noticed ปรากฏให้เห็น
spotted some fresh gaur tracks

mature - fully grown เติบโตเต็มที่
a big mature bull

judge - to look at something closely and decide something about it
conclude - to make or reach a decision
judging from their size, concluded that it was a big mature bull

it was getting late

As I was walking in to set a few more traps, I spotted some fresh gaur tracks and judging from their size, concluded that they were those of a big mature bull. I went in a little bit more and decided to turn back as the bush was really thick and it was getting late.

all of a sudden - suddenly

snort -
to make a loud noise with the nose
 
moment
- a very short period of time; a particular time or occasionชั่วขณะ, โอกาสสำคัญ
In the next moment, ...

beast -
animal
punch -
1. hit something hard, with great force; 2. hit with fist, hand
this huge beast punched through the bush

classic - the most well-known and famous  
the classic position to ...

hook - to catch with and hold something
hook people - catch people (in its horns, probably)

its head down in the classic position to hook people and throw them into the trees.

I had gone about 50m and all of a sudden, a bull gaur no more than 6m away snorted at me. I snorted back thinking he would run away. In the next moment, this huge beast punched through the bush with its head down in the classic position to hook bad people and throw them into the trees.

base - the bottom part of something (where it is attached to something)
horn base - the bottom part of the horn (where it is attached to the head)
base of the horn
the right horn base

fraction
- a small part or amount of something
a fraction of a second
saw for a fraction of a second

I saw the right horn base for a fraction of a second and it took me another fraction of a second to do the only thing possible and that was to drop down to the left and lie flat on my stomach with my head down. The bull jumped over my legs and then circled around to carry on its business of trying to kill me.

thrash - to move around in a violent and uncontrolled way
thrashing around

saplings - young trees ต้นอ่อน
breaking saplings

stamp -
to hit something hard with the feet
stamping on the ground

some 10 to 15m away - at a distance of about 10 to 15 meters

charge - to run at something with great speed
a charging bull

imminent - happening soon ที่จะเกิดขึ้่นเร็วๆนี้ expected to happen soon ในไม่ช้า จวนเจียน จวนตัว ซึ่งใกล้จะเกิดขึ้น
a second charge was imminent

a hoof - the hard part of a horse's foot
hooves (plural) - the hard parts of horses' feet
trample - to step heavily on something or someone, causing damage เหยียบย่ำ
used his hooves to trample me

disastrous - extremely bad or unsuccessful ซึ่งทำให้เกิด (ภัยพิบัติ, ความหายนะ, ความโชคร้าย)
the charge could be disastrous if he used his hooves to trample me

For what seemed like a lifetime, I heard him thrashing around breaking saplings and stamping on the ground some 10 to 15m away. A second charge was imminent and could be disastrous if he used his hooves to trample me. Only one thing would save me now.

pistol - a small gun that you hold in one hand ปืนพก,ปืนสั้น
I pulled out my pistol

shot - the firing of a gun (bullet "shot" out of gun at something)
let off a shot in the air

the report
the report a few seconds later

high-tail it - to leave a place quickly, to run away  
the bull high-tailed it

a close encounter - when something bad almost happens

I quickly pulled out my pistol, loaded it and let off a shot in the air, all the while still lying down. After the report a few seconds later, the bull high-tailed it, crashing off into the forest behind me. Wow, that was a close encounter and truly a heart-stopper. I stayed on the ground for quite a while to make sure he was really gone.

There was no telling if ... - we could not know for sure, with certainty

bovine - relating to cows
bovid
this old bovid

wounded
- injured, especially where your skin or flesh is damaged, usually seriously บาดเจ็บ
poachers - illegal hunters
shot and wounded by poachers

bad temper - angry
just an old guy with a bad temper

threat
- a danger อันตราย
bark - to say something loudly (shout) with an angry voice
considered me a threat when I barked back at him

In all my years in the forest, I have never been this close to a gaur or had the experience of a charging bull. There was no telling if this old bovid had been shot and wounded previously by poachers, and that he really hated humans. Or was he just an old guy with a bad temper and considered me a threat when I barked back at him. I will never really know how close I came to instant death.

froze - 1. to stop moving; 2. when water turns into ice
froze in their tracks - to stop walking
killed by gaur because they froze in their tracks

react - to do something after something happens to you
in time - doing something in the time you have to do it; not late
reacting in time
just stood there not reacting in time

avert
- to stop something bad from happening
avert death - to prevent death; to stop from dieing
the only way to avert death is to drop down flat

rifle - a large gun with a long barrel that you hold against your shoulder to fire ปืนยาว, ปืนไรเฟิล
calibre - the width of a gun barrel (that the bullet travels through)
large calibre rifle - a rifle that can shoot large deadly bullets
have a very large calibre rifle ready

Many a Thai hunter has been killed by gaur because they froze in their tracks and just stood there not reacting in time. I have read in several books that the only way to avert death is to drop down flat with your head down low, or have a very large calibre rifle ready. I had a Nikon D7000 and a 70-300 VR lens.

survive - to stay alive despite a dangerous situation, an illness, injury, etc. มีชีวิตรอด อยู่รอด สืบต่อไปได้ รอดพ้น รอดไปได้
react fast and survive

intruder -
a person who enters a forbidden place (a place they are not allowed to go or a place where they commit a crime)
Tracks Of An Intruder

classic - very good, of high quality and has been popular for a long time
tome -
a book (a large heavy book about a serious subject) 
a classic tome

hunting - the activity of killing animals for some reason (meat, skin, sport, etc)
a classic tome about hunting in northern Thailand in the 50s

urgent - needing to be dealt with immediately ที่เร่งด่วน  เร่งด่วน เหตุเร่งด่วน
the evasive action needed in this urgent situation

chapter - a section of a book บท
a chapter about a man-killer bull gaur

survived - continued to live or exist รอดมาได้
lucky to have survived this attack

bar ...
- not including ...
bar none - including everything 

absolutely
- completely
absolutely the most exciting experience

absolutely the most exciting experience that I have ever had, bar none...

How did I react so fast and survive? I have one man to thank. He is my dear old friend Gordon Young, author of the book Tracks Of An Intruder, a classic tome about hunting in northern Thailand in the 50s. He talks about the evasive action needed in this urgent situation in a chapter about a man-killer bull gaur in Mae Salak in Chiang Mai. I certainly thought of him right after this. I feel extremely lucky to have survived this attack and it was absolutely the most exciting experience that I have ever had, bar none...

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