Thirteen-year old Parvathi boarded the truck with excitement in Madurai on Monday for a 48-day winter vacation in the cool climes of Mudumalai forests.
Along with Parvathi, the temple elephant at the famous Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple, 34 more elephants are expected to reach the Theppakadu elephant camp by the gushing Moyar river in the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve by Tuesday for the rejuvenation camp for temple elephants, which has been revived by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa after a gap of five years.
Ten elephants from Tirunelveli and districts down South, four from Thanjavur, four from Madurai and the rest from across the State, accompanied by mahouts and veterinarians, will halt at Mettupalayam on Monday night.
On Tuesday morning, the elephants will board the trucks up-hill to Udhagamandalam and then down-hill to reach the Theppakadu camp by night. The elephants had already been screened and certified disease-free and transported as per the guidelines. Apart from de-worming, the elephants were given anthrax vaccines, said temple authorities.
At Theppakadu, the camp's permanent residents, the trained elephants have been moved up to a separate area across the river so as not to be in contact with the “visitors.” The temple elephants will have an anti-viral bath and walk through patches of bleaching and lime powder to be infection free to their own secluded space to move around and enjoy the wilderness, away from humans they are so used to, and away from the wild animals in the tiger reserve.
They will be given a rejuvenation diet, basically green fodder including sugar cane, sorghum and cariota leaves, for which specific tenders have been floated, forest veterinarians said.
The accompanying mahouts, this time, have mobile toilets, to ensure hygiene in the elephant camp. The mahouts and temple authorities will be trained on elephant management to make sure the temple elephants live a stress-free life post-rejuvenation camp, wildlife officials said.