Encountering tigers and wild elephants can be a risky affair. Especially if it happens to be Ronaldo, a rogue elephant which enters villages, mauling inhabitants. Villagers usually ward off the wild elephants with electrified barbed wire fences.
However, the intelligence quotient of elephants is legendary. They know when there is a power cut and listen to the sounds of generators, and vibrations in the wires, to determine when the wires do not carry a current. The villagers then have to resort to lighting fires to keep the animals out, as well as keep themselves warm.
Since the Chitwan National Park was established in the 1970s, fishing activities have been regulated with strict guidelines. Some Bote now grow crops by the river. They also sell chicken, eggs and elephant grass, and buy dal, rice and buffalo meat to supplement their own supply of fish, mutton, chicken and homegrown vegetables.
They now have solar-powered lights, but the homes are still plastered with mud and cow dung. The roofing is made from elephant grass, which is harvested once a year in spring when the Park is open for collection, and have to be rethatched annually.
Rishiram and his brothers Parshuram, Dipak and Pardeep are the last few members of the Bote community in Sauraha. There are a few others living down the river in Pathiani. Chitwan is, however, dominated by the better-known Tharu who have cleverly showcased their culture to attract tourists. Being more under-served than the Tharu, the Bote and Majhi communities of Chitwan are at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder.