‘Mahouts play a big role in conflict management’

A hippopotamus with its calf at the Mysuru zoo on Monday.  

Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Zoo Authority of Karnataka Member Secretary B.P. Ravi on Monday said mahouts and kavadis were an integral part of wildlife conservation and have been playing an indispensable role in conflict management with compassion, courage and skill.

Presiding over a training programme for the capacity building of mahouts and kavadis from various Indian zoos that was organised jointly by the Mysuru zoo and Central Zoo Authority, at the Mysuru zoo, Mr. Ravi expressed the need for understanding the emotions of animals while addressing conflict situations.

He said the experience of a mahout comes in handy in conflict management and held that it was necessary to improve the skills of mahouts and kavadis with capacity development programmes like the one organised at the zoo.

“How a 50 kg mahout commands over a 5,000 kg elephant is an amazing story. This shows the faith of the animal in the person. Also, it shows the skill of the person controlling the mammoth. The skill of a mahout can be best judged if he or she makes the animal lie down with just one command,” Mr. Ravi stated.

Mr. Ravi said Karnataka’s elephant camps have about 95 elephants and about 42 elephants were housed in the State zoos. The capacity building programme is part of conservation exercise, he said, adding that Mysuru zoo was chosen for the programme as it was the only Indian zoo housing elephants.

Citing that observation was central in animal management, Mr. Ravi said an African elephant at the zoo here was often getting restless and its keeper felt that the smell of the perfume from visitors’ clothes was disturbing the animal. After the elephant was moved further inside its enclosure, the problem was resolved.

In the first batch, 30 mahouts from Karnataka, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat will undergo training for five days – November 19 to 23. The second batch of training has been scheduled from February 4 to 8, 2019. They will be visiting Dubare elephant camp and Koorgalli Animal Rescue Centre here.

Manoj Kumar, Member Secretary, Karnataka State Pollution Control Board, Mysuru, felt that the training organised for mahouts was an important one as they played a bigger role in conflict management, and therefore advised the participants to make best use of the programme.

In his inaugural address, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Director (Project Elephant) Jagat Ram said Karnataka has made a good progress in wildlife conservation and the credit for this went to the staff and officers of the Forest Department. Karnataka has 6,034 elephants, 450 tigers and 2,500 leopards, he added.

Mysuru zoo Executive Director Ajit Kulkarni; Deputy Conservator of Forests (Wildlife division, Mysuru) Siddramappa Chilkapure; and Manoharan, Regional Joint Director, Animal Husbandry, Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu were present.

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Printable version | Nov 23, 2021 2:31:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/mahouts-play-a-big-role-in-conflict-management/article25541726.ece

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