Ageing ‘Kumki’ duo awaits adoption in Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh

Jayanth and Vinayak served the Forest Department for more than two decades

February 18, 2022 06:33 pm | Updated 06:33 pm IST - CHITTOOR

Forest staff performing puja to kumkis Jayanth and Vinayak at Naniyala camp at Ramakuppam in Chittoor district.

Forest staff performing puja to kumkis Jayanth and Vinayak at Naniyala camp at Ramakuppam in Chittoor district.

Jayanth (65) and Vinayak (52) are kumkis (trained elephants), faithfully serving the Forest Department in Chittoor district for more than two decades. Housed at the Naniyala forest camp in the Koundinya Wildlife Sanctuary at Ramakuppam, over 100 km from here, these two male tuskers are nearing their retirement stage.

The love and special care of the forest officials have helped them maintain their agility and vigour in undertaking many operations to drive away their crop-raiding wild counterparts back into their habitations.

While Jayanth was born wild on the elephant corridor along the tri-State junction sandwiched by Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, he was captured near Kuppam more than two decades ago. For some years, he was sent to the Visakhapatnam zoo and returned to its roots later.

Vinayak’s background was not known to the mahouts except for his shuttling between Visakhapatnam and Chittoor in the recent past, before arriving at the Naniyala camp to relocate Ganesh, another kumki, to SV Zoo Park at Tirupati.

With the change of many mahouts and their assistants over years, their bond with the kumkis matters the most, and not the animals’ background.

The forest officials and mahouts take pride in Jayanth and Vinayak, for their innumerable operations to control the frenzied wild herds of Koundinya sanctuary and the migratory herds from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

The duo had also tackled their wild crop-raiding counterparts, driving them away into the thickets at Talakona forests of Seshachalam hills; and the recent (2021) operation against three wild tuskers from Tamil Nadu, that strayed into the Nagari plains in Chittoor district.


It cost about ₹10 lakh for the annual maintenance of the two kumkis at the Naniyala camp. Their feed includes ragi balls, nutritious fodder, and a regular stroll into the forests for natural grazing. In addition to this, the duo is given vitamin supplements.

As they are ageing, the officials are concerned about their special care, for which the idea of seeking donors for them was born. With the emergence of more and more wild herds into the Koundinya sanctuary zone from across the neighboring states, the responsibilities of Jayanth and Vinayak are also set to multiply.

Divisional Forest Officer (Chittoor West) S. Ravi Shankar said donors could adopt either one or two kumkis. “Their gesture could be through cash or kind, and the periodicity of would depend on their choice. One can sponsor their feed for a fortnight or a month or more. Our Jayanth is popularly known as Devatha-Yenugu (divine elephant) all over. This gesture would also auger well for the donors,” he said.

New kumkis

The DFO said that there was a plan to have new and young kumkis in the future. “As part of this, we want to capture a young bull or two from the wild in Koundinya sanctuary and use them for kumki operations after training them. This may take time. Our Naniyala tuskers are still doing well,” the official said.

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