Almost two and a half years after he was born in captive at Puthenkulam near here, the elephant calf Sivan was weaned from his mother Lakshmi on Friday evening. Captive elephant management expert,
B. Aravind who supervised the weaning process said that it was a mammoth task.
Puthekulam Shaji who owns Lakshmi was not aware of the pregnancy when he purchased her from Bihar late in 2006. Sivan was born on April 2, 2007 and till Friday he was always besides his mother and her milk,
his staple diet. But on Friday things went different for Sivan and the next time he meets Lakshmi he may not even recall that she is his mother.
Weaning of captive elephant calves are done when they are between two to three years. Delay in weaning beyond that period could result in captive elephant calves growing up into “spoiled brats” said Dr. Aravind. So Sivan has been weaned at the right time. But the weaning scenes were touching.
Unaware of what was going to happen, Sivan was treated to a parting suckle and he had his stomach full. Lakshmi was then mildly tranquilised by injecting her with xylazine. Then she was made to walk from the shed she shared with her son to a waiting truck with a ramp.
On directions from the mahout, she walked up the ramp into the truck. Watched by Sivan, the truck slowly moved away carrying his mother and soon vanished from his sight. The calf soon turned restless and began
to call out for his missing mother. By that time Lakshmi was 5 kms away in a different shed in the company of mature elephants.
At the other end mahouts are having a tough time pacifying Sivan with jaggery rolls and goat’s milk. After overcoming the sedation Lakshmi too began calling out for her calf. Dr. Aravind said that the calls
will subside in two or three days. But care will be taken to ensure that Lakshmi and Sivan do not see each other for many years to come, he said. Otherwise elephants can revive their bonds.