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Care for elephants, mahouts

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REST ASSURED: A Kochi-based NGO has finalised an insurance programme for mahouts. Photo: H. Vibhu
REST ASSURED: A Kochi-based NGO has finalised an insurance programme for mahouts. Photo: H. Vibhu

Elephants are attracting more attention in the State these days. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and Government agencies are in the process of formulating programmes for caring of elephants and mahouts.

Elephant Care, a Kochi-based NGO focussing on issues related to elephants and mahouts, have finalised an insurance programme for mahouts.

The organisation has decided to insure 200 mahouts. The organisation, in association with the Oriental Insurance Corporation, will provide free insurance cover of Rs.1 lakh each, says its general secretary E. Nandakumar.

The documents pertaining to the insurance policies will be distributed at a function on Saturday. A mega feast for elephants has also been arranged.

The organisation plans to bring at least 500 mahouts under insurance cover in a year and make it 1,000 in due course, says Mr. Nandakumar.

On the day of Anayoottu, a free medical camp will also be organised for the mahouts, said K.V. Satheesh Kumar, member of the organisation.

Elephant Care had earlier organised medical camps for elephants at Thripunithura in connection with the festival in Sree Poornathrayeesa Temple. This time, there will be no such camp, as the elephants covered by the earlier one will be reaching the temple during the current festival season beginning on Sunday, says Mr. Nandakumar.

The organisation conducted a medical camp for elephants at Thuravoor on Deepavali day. Quiz competitions and a painting competition for children have also been planned on the day. The competitions will be held at Government Boy's High School, Thripunithura.

Elephant management

The Kerala Forests and Wildlife Department, in association with Periyar Foundation, Thekkady, is in the process of organising training programmes in elephant management techniques for the officers and field staff belonging to various elephant reserves in the State. Starting with Periyar Tiger Reserve on November 1, three programmes have been organised so far, says Padma Mahanti, member secretary of the foundation.

Two more programmes for the field staff will be organised at Chimmini and Wayanad. A programme for officers will be organised at Thekkady, she says.

With Kerala having the most number of captive elephants, the capacity of the field staff needs to be enhanced by providing adequate exposure to the ecosystem, behaviour and social organisation and population dynamics of wild elephants and management problems of captive elephants, she adds.

Nearly 400 frontline staff and 100 officers, including range officers and divisional forest officers, will be covered under programme.

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