Tuskers Bhima and Mahendra, both from Mattigodu elephant camp, who were inducted into the Dasara jumbo squad for the first time this year, are said to be displaying amazing perfection and skills during daily training here despite being new to the Dasara-related tasks.
For, both have successfully completed the first round of weight training with both the tuskers carrying 300 kg of sand bags on their back at ease which amazed the forest officials and the elephant staff. They displayed the skill of a Dasara veteran, especially the young Bhima.
Barring Arjuna, other tuskers in the first batch – Abhimanyu, Gopalaswamy, Dhananjaya, Bhima and Mahendra – have successfully completed the week-long first round of weight training, covering the procession route almost every day.
“Their self-control and skills of handling the weight amazed us since Bhima and Mahendra are new to Dasara tasks. We undertake weight training of select tuskers besides the howdah elephant as a back-up arrangement. In the next rounds, when the tuskers are supposed to carry 500 kg weight, we limit the number of elephants for this task and later three tuskers would be selected to carry the wooden replica of howdah that matches the weight of the golden howdah,” said V. Karikalan, Deputy Conservator of Forest, Wildlife division.
He told The Hindu that the training was going on successfully and all nine elephants were responding well to the daily tasks. All of them are now acclimatized to the city environment, he added.
The training will henceforth be focused more in the evenings so that elephants get familiarized to the crowds, lights and evenings. The morning session will be limited till Ayurveda College Circle and the evening sessions till Bannimantap grounds, he explained.
Stating that the second batch of elephants are expected to arrive here in September first week, Mr. Karikalan said, “Of the 14 elephants, we may use nine or ten tuskers for the Jamboo Savari. The number will be finalized after the training was completed and studying the behavior of the elephants. Arjuna, who carried the howdah for many years, will be used as a Nishane elephant in the procession this year.”
Expressing happiness over the choice of elephants for Dasara this year, he said the elephants are calm and seamlessly undergoing training, listening to the commands of their mahouts and kavadis. First-timers Bhima and Mahendra are remarkable, he added.
Bhima was caught in Hassan in 2014-15.