Kari the Elephant by Dhan Gopal Mukerji Kari the Elephant by Dhan Gopal Mukerji    

Chapter 7: The Tiger Hunt

Performer: Librivox - Adrian Praetzellis

I have told you that Kari was not a hunting elephant. After that experience in the jungle, however, he seemed to be above all fear and surprise. On many occasions he showed such dignity and composure that one could not recognize in him the old, nervous beast. Apparently that battle with the wild elephant gave him such confidence in his own strength that from that time no incident could surprise him.

You do not know what music can do for animals. If you took a flute and played certain tunes on it, all of the snakes would come out of their holes and dance to the music! There is supposed to be a kind of flower, like a sensitive plant, that can be put to sleep by the playing of a very delicate tune. I have seen with my own eyes how fond the deer are of music. Sometimes in the middle of the afternoon, if you stand on the edge of the forest and play your flute and slowly strike the notes which sound like the whistling call of the antelope, the deer generally bark, but they also give a whistling call.

As I was playing my flute one afternoon, I remember distinctly that nothing had happened for a while. I stopped and tried another tune. I heard a strange rustle in the leaves of the small plants of the jungle; but nothing came of it. Again I changed my tune and played on. This time even the leaves did not move, so I was sure my flute was not catching the ear of any animal. I was heart-broken. I had gone to test my knowledge of flute-playing, but I found out that I could not attract any animal.

It was getting late; the darkness of the jungle became thicker and thicker, though the April sun was still scorching the open meadow. At last in desperation, I tried my only remaining tune, not being very proficient on the flute. For a while nothing happened. I played so intently that I paid attention to nothing else and was greatly startled to hear a noise as if someone were pulling on a rope. I looked up and there was a stag whose nostrils were quivering with excitement as if he scented the music. His beautiful forked horns were caught up in a creeper hanging from a tree, from which he was trying to free himself. I kept on playing, but did not take my eyes from him. At last he freed himself from the vine, but a tendril still clung to his horns like a crown of green. He came nearer and stood still.

I kept on playing, and one by one more golden faces began to come out from behind the foliage of the jungle. The spotted fawn, the musk-deer, gazelles and antelopes, all seemed to answer the call of the music. I stopped playing. That instant a shiver went through the herd; the stag stamped his foot on the ground and as swiftly as the waving of a blade of grass in the breeze they all disappeared in the forest. I could feel in the distance the shiver of the undergrowth of grass and saplings indicating the way the animals had passed.

Knowing this power of music over animals, I wanted to train Kari and Kopee to follow the tunes of my flute. Kopee was such a monkey that I could not make him listen. Whenever I began to play the flute, he would go to sleep or run up a tree. Monkeys have no brains.

Kari, on the contrary, though much worse at first, was more sensible. He paid no attention to any tune that I played, but once in a while, I would strike a note that would make him stop still and listen, and I could tell by his manner that this tune went home. Those long fanning ears of his would stop waving and the restless trunk would be still for a moment. Unfortunately, the notes that really reached his soul were very few — I could hardly sustain them for more than a minute and a half. Weeks passed before I could get them back again.

One day after the battle with the wild elephant in the jungle, I took up the flute again and began to play for him. I tried many notes and chords. At last I could sustain the tones he liked for more than three minutes. By the end of August, I could make Kari listen to my music for ten minutes at a time. When another winter had passed and summer came again, I could really command him with my music. I could sit on his back, almost on his neck, and play the flute, never saying a word, and guide him for days and days.

This summer a very daring tiger visited our village. His head looked like a tower and his body was as large as that of an ox. At first he came in the night and killed oxen or buffaloes, but one night he killed a man, and after that he never killed anything but men, for the tiger is as fond of human meat as we are of chicken.

Our house was very near the jungle; all our windows were barred with iron. Nothing could go in or out through them except mosquitoes or flies. One evening I was sitting at my window at about eight o'clock. I heard the cry of the Fayu, the fox which goes ahead of the tiger, giving the warning call to all the other animals. Then, as the darkness that night was not very intense, I could see the fox go by. Soon I could actually inhale the odor of a tiger.

In a few minutes an enormous black creature came and stood in front of the window. As he sat down, the call of the fox in the distance stopped. After a while the tiger stood up and walked toward the window. That instant, the fox in the distance began to call. I was very frightened, but as I wanted to see the tiger clearly, I lit a match. He was so frightened by the sight of fire that with one growl he bounded off.

After that the tiger took to coming early in the afternoons. One day about four o'clock, we saw him standing on a rock across the river, looking at the village. The river was very shallow, hardly five inches deep, but it was very broad and full of sand bars. He stood looking at the village and growling with great joy. Now, in India the government does not allow the people to carry rifles of any sort, so whenever a tiger or a leopard makes a nuisance of himself around the village you generally have to send for a British official to come and kill him. Word was sent to the magistrate of our district. In a few days a chubby-faced Englishman appeared. In the Indian sun the red face of the Westerner looks even redder.

There are certain rules by which men hunt in India. You never shoot an animal weaker than yourself, and if you want to shoot a tiger or a leopard, you give it a warning. If you do not do so, you generally pay for it. After the British official appeared, I was allowed to take him on my elephant and go out in the open to show him that Kari was fit for hunting. He fired a number of shots and killed several birds. Kari, who had never heard a shot before, and whom everyone expected to be frightened, did not pay the slightest attention to all the clamor of flying bullets. He knew at heart that he was the master of the jungle, and hence nothing could surprise him. It is said in India that the mark of a gentleman is that he is never surprised. That shows that Kari's ancestors were undoubtedly very gentle elephants.

After killing some more birds, the magistrate became quite convinced that Kari would do for the hunt, so one morning about four o'clock we started out. I sat almost on the neck of my elephant playing my flute, and the magistrate sat in the howdah which had been especially prepared for him, since he was not accustomed to riding elephants in any other way. We crossed the river and went far into the jungle. Beaters had gone ahead in large groups to stir up the jungle from all directions. It was very difficult to go through the jungle with the howdah on the elephant's back, and we had to edge our way along between branches and trees.

After riding for at least two hours, we came to an open space and it was agreed that the beaters should drive all the animals to this clearing. This morning the sunrise was full of noise and without any of the soft and delicate silences which usually marked day-break in the jungle. I felt quite out of humor and apparently Kari was bored to death. He kept on pulling at one twig after another with his trunk, nibbling and wasting everything. Our passenger did not know any language but English, and as I knew nothing of English at that time, we spoke very little and only by signs.

The first animals to come before us were a herd of antelopes which dashed towards us like burnt gold flashing through emerald water. After they had passed, a lull fell on the scene, which was soon broken by the grunt and snort of a rhinoceros. He rushed forward in a straight line, as usual, breaking and tearing everything. Kari averted his gaze because elephants are always irritated by the ostentatious bustle of a rhinoceros. But, soon after him we saw a horned boar rushing like a black javelin through the air, followed by many animals, weasels and wild cats, and once in a while a cheetah with its spotted skin. They refused to come out in the open, however, but always went behind the screen of foliage and grass, for they had smelled the danger signal, man and elephant.

Every little while we heard a passionate and angry growl. When this sound reached our ears, the magistrate would sit up with his rifle to take aim. Then there would be a lull. Now we could hear the cry o£ the beaters in the distance coming nearer and nearer. Suddenly a herd of elephants passed. They made no noise and left no trace, but passed by like walking cathedrals.

Again the angry growl fell on the jungle, but this time it was ahead of us. The beaters cried out again close by, but all were silenced by the roar of the approaching tiger. With one bound he appeared in the clearing, but immediately disappeared again. We could see him passing from one bush to another; and when he stopped we caught a glimpse of his hind legs. Without any warning the magistrate fired and like a thunder bolt, the tiger leaped in front of the elephant with one roar. Kari reared; he walked backwards and stood with his back against a tree. The magistrate could not shoot at the tiger without sending a bullet through my head, so he had to wait.

Then with a leap the tiger was by the side of the elephant, so close to the howdah that there was not the distance of even a rifle between him and the magistrate. I stopped my flute playing to swear at the magistrate. I said, "You brother of a pig; why did you not give him warning before you shot? Who has ever heard of killing an animal without seeing him face to face? Can you kill a tiger by breaking his hind leg with a bullet?"

The man was livid with terror. He had the rifle in his hand but the tiger was reaching over the howdah and stretching out his paw to get him. He did not know what to do. Kari shook himself with all his strength but he could not shake the tiger off. He trumpeted in great pain because the tiger's claws were cutting into his flesh. He raised his trunk, swayed his body and bounded against a tree behind him; but still the tiger could not be shaken off. The nearer the tiger's paw came, the more the magistrate tried to lean against the side of the howdah. Pretty soon he moved towards the elephant's rear, and thus reached a corner of the howdah which gave him almost as much space as the length of a rifle. I saw the eye of the tiger turn first red, then yellow, and heard the terrible snarl which he gives only when he is sure of his prey. The quality of the snarl is such that it paralyzes his victim.

Seeing that the Englishman could do nothing and feeling sure that he would be killed, I knew I had to do something. I stopped swearing and with one terrible yell gave the elephant the master call. He went forward and put his trunk around a very thick branch of a tree and pulled it down with a great crash. That instant the tiger looked at the direction from which the noise had come. His head was near me now, and he did not know whether to attack me or go back to his former prey. It seemed as if hours passed. I was petrified with terror, yet I knew that if I let my fright get possession of me, I would be killed. So I controlled myself. Kari was now trying to strike the tiger with this trunk, but he could not get at him.

Suddenly I realized that the Englishman not only had the rifle's length between him and the tiger but was raising the rifle to take aim. Knowing this, I took my flute and hit the tiger's knuckles with it. He came toward me with his paw outstretched and caught the shawl which was loosely tied around my waist. I was glad to hear it tear because he had just missed my flesh. That instant I saw the Englishman put the barrel of the rifle into the tiger's ear. All I remembered was hot blood spurting over my face. Kari was running away with all his might and he did not stop until he had crossed the clearing and disappeared beyond the trees. He was not hurt, except that his side was torn here and there with superficial wounds. When the beaters came, I made the elephant kneel down. We both got off. The Englishman went to see how big the tiger was while I led Kari in quest of my broken flute. Toward sun-down when they had skinned the tiger, they found its length to be nine feet, not counting the tail.

    Kari the Elephant by Dhan Gopal Mukerji Kari the Elephant by Dhan Gopal Mukerji    

Chapter 7: The Tiger Hunt

Performer: Librivox - Adrian Praetzellis


Study the chapter for one week.

Over the week:

  • Read and/or listen to the chapter.
  • Review the synopsis.
  • Study the vocabulary words.
  • Complete the enrichment activities.
  • Discuss the review questions.


The narrator teaches Kari to respond to tunes played with a flute. That summer, a tiger comes to the village, first killing animals and then killing a person. During the time of this story, India is under British rule, and no Indian can possess a gun. The village must send for a British magistrate to bring his gun and kill the tiger. The British magistrate decides to use Kari as his hunting elephant. The narrator sits on Kari's neck, playing his flute, and the Magistrate sits in a howdah on Kari's back. When they arrive at an open space, beaters begin to drive animals toward the space in the hopes of catching the tiger. Eventually, the tiger comes but the magistrate fires and misses. The tiger attacks, jumping on Kari and trying to get at the magistrate. The narrator distracts the tiger by giving Kari the master call and hitting the tiger with the flute, allowing the magistrate to shoot and kill the tiger.


Colony: A settlement of emigrants who move to a new place but remain culturally tied to their original place of origin.
Magistrate: A judicial officer with limited authority to administer and enforce the law.
Beater: A man who drives game towards shooters in a hunting party, often working in a group.


Activity 1: Recite the Book Information

  • Recite the name of the author, the title of the book, and the title of the chapter.

Activity 2: Narrate the Story

  • Narrate the events aloud in your own words.

Activity 3: Copy and Dictate a Sentence   

Complete page 50 in 'Third Grade Prose Copywork and Dictation.'

  • Step 1: Students copy the script sentence.
  • Step 2: Instructors say the sentence aloud, and children write it.
  • Sentence: If you played certain tunes on a flute, all of the snakes would dance to the music.

Activity 4: Map the Story

  • The story 'Kari the Elephant' takes place in the country of India.
  • Find and recite the names of the countries which share a border with India.


Question 1

Why does the narrator learn to play a flute?
1 / 3

Answer 1

The narrator wishes to charm animals and control Kari with the flute.
1 / 3

Question 2

Why must the village call the British magistrate?
2 / 3

Answer 2

The village must call the magistrate to kill the man-eating tiger that terrorizes the village.
2 / 3

Question 3

How does the narrator help the magistrate kill the tiger?
3 / 3

Answer 3

The narrator distracts the tiger by giving Kari the master call and hitting the tiger with a flute, allowing the magistrate to shoot and kill the tiger.
3 / 3

  1. Why does the narrator learn to play a flute? The narrator wishes to charm animals and control Kari with the flute.
  2. Why must the village call the British magistrate? The village must call the magistrate to kill the man-eating tiger that terrorizes the village.
  3. How does the narrator help the magistrate kill the tiger? The narrator distracts the tiger by giving Kari the master call and hitting the tiger with a flute, allowing the magistrate to shoot and kill the tiger.