Mani, an elephant, is leading a fine retired life after serving the Forest Department for 40 years.
The first to reap the benefit of the State government’s revised pension age of 60 will probably be an elephant.
When captive elephants are made to toil even at old age, Mani, the Forest Department’s tusker at Aryankavu, is lucky to be formally ‘pensioned off.’
When he retired two years ago, Mani had completed 40 years of service at the department’s timber depot at Aryankavu.
He was obtained as a calf from Konni.
Range Officer, Aryankavu, A.J. Ramesh Kumar said, post retirement, the animal had not been made to work at the depot. The usual quota of food and the service of the mahout continue.
The elephant is also not being sent for any outside work including temple festivals. Thankachan who has been serving as Mani’s mahout for the past 30 years said though retired the animal is not made to lead a sedentary life.
He is taken out for regular walks and given the daily bath in a nearby stream.
The department spends Rs.30,000 a month on the elephant and that could well be seen as its monthly pension. Mani also gets the care of veterinarians when required. Thankachan says Mani was always a calm animal.
Porridge, comprising various grain and jaggery, Mani’s main food. He also gets 40 green coconut palm fronds each day.
Mr. Ramesh Kumar said there are plans to shift Mani to the Kottur Elephant Rehabilitation Centre of the department where the elephant could be given with better care.
Thankachan too will accompany Mani.