Two giant kumkis (trained elephants) Jayanth, 62, and Vinayak, 60, were the cynosure of all eyes at the 76th Independence Day celebrations organised at the Naniyala Elephant Camp in Ramakuppam mandal on Monday.
The elephants enthralled the crowd as they majestically took part in a parade holding the Tricolour aloft with their trunks, in the presence of government officials who organised the event.
Officials of Chittoor West division took pride in the celebrations as the duo enjoyed the distinction of being the only ‘house elephants’ of Andhra Pradesh. “The spectacle of the two jumbos lifting the Tricolour with their trunks and taking part in the rally was a big thrill, and a wild and exciting experience to watch,” said Divisional Forest Officer C. Chaitanya Kumar Reddy.
The 32-year-old IFS officer, who recently took charge as the DFO in Chittoor, said that as part of the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, they had thought of doing something special to mark the occasion.
“Generally, the Independence Day celebrations are a low-key affair among the Forest Department personnel at the camp. This time, we wanted to rope in the two house elephants. Both of them are sons of the soil, captured around the Koundinya wildlife sanctuary. The duo is very special to all of our personnel, the two mahouts and their assistants and elephant trackers,” the official said.
A week ahead of the I-Day celebrations, the job of training the kumkis to carry the National Flags and walk with grace at the I-Day rally was entrusted to Nayaz (29), one of the mahouts from Mysore who works at the Naniyala camp. “It took me just ten minutes to train Jayanth and Vinayak to do the feat In a couple of days, they displayed perfection and were fully ready for the rally,” he said.
“I could see the joy in their eyes as they lifted the flags into the air and started walking elegantly. There were many occasions wherein I could train the house elephants elsewhere in South India to perform various tasks. But this particular task meant for Independence Day is unique and a big thrill. I will never forget it,” Nayaz said.
The kumkis had enacted their special I-Day assignment at the camp for three days in succession, giving a majestic touch to the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav. Their feat had become the talk of the town in the hamlets surrounding the camp.
Forest Range Officer (Kuppam) Madan Mohan Reddy said that Jayanth and Vinayak share similar traits. “Unlike other house elephants in other States where they are vulnerable to man-animal conflict, our kumkis are so massive, extremely disciplined, and dedicated in their tasks. Their assignment for the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav was executed with precision. I hope the duo can set a nice precedent for the coming editions of Independence Day festivities elsewhere in the country,” the FRO said.