Karnataka

A jumbo ‘log book’ that records the origins of Mysuru Dasara tuskers

Tusker Abhimanyu with other elephants at Veeranahosahalli in Hunsur taluk of Mysuru district on Sunday.

Tusker Abhimanyu with other elephants at Veeranahosahalli in Hunsur taluk of Mysuru district on Sunday. | Photo Credit: M.A. Sriram

   

The entry of elephants from the jungle camps to the city of palaces signals the countdown to the famed Dasara and the first batch of elephants led by Abhimanyu arrived here on Sunday.

Some of these elephants have been veterans of Mysuru Dasara and have unique characteristic features that have been well documented by the Forest Department which maintains a ‘’log book’’ – so to say – including details of their age, height and their origins.

Leading the herd

Abhimanyu for instance is 57 years and belongs to Mathigodu elephant camp, measures 2.72 metres in height and 3.61 metres in length besides weighing 4,720 kg. He was caught in an operation in Hebbal forest area in Kodagu district in 1970. He has been a regular in Mysuru Dasara since 2012. Abhimanyu’s forte is his strong resolve which comes in handy while capturing elephants or during combing operations to trap and tranquilise tigers.

As the lead elephant in such operations, Abhimanyu has so far helped capture 140 to 150 elephants and assisted in coming to trap and tranquilise about 50 tigers. No wonder, the Forest Department officials bank on Abhimanyu’s forte in sniffing out tigers or pin down wild elephants straying from their habitat and entering human landscape escalating human-animal conflict. Abhimanyu has carried the golden howdah during the Vijayadashami procession during 2020 and 2021 when the Dasara procession was truncated due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

His predecessor, Arjuna, is also in the team as a ‘’standby’’ and to shore up their spirits. At 63, he is no pushover and tends to be the show-stealer given his commanding presence and dignified demeanour. He is 2.95 metres in height and 3.75 metres in length and weighs around 5,500 kg to 5,870 kg. Arjuna was captured during the 1968 Khedda operations in Kakanakote forests and has taken part in Dasara on 22 occasions out of which he has carried the golden howdah from 2012 to 2019.

Vikrama is another veteran belonging to the earlier generation of mighty tuskers that includes the likes of Abhimanyu and Arjuna. At 59 and on the verge of retirement, Vikrama measures 2.89 metres in height and 3.43 metres in length and weighs about 3,820 kg. He was captured in the Doddabetta forests in 1990 and has participated in Mysuru Dasara 19 times.

Vijaya is the matriarch of the team and is 63 years old. Beloning to Dubare camp, she is 3,250 kg in weight and measures 2.29 metres in height and 3 metres in length. The officials who have documented her behaviour aver Vijaya, who was captured from the wild in 1963 in Dubare, is docile and soft in nature and has taken part in Mysuru Dasara on 13 occasions so far.

Tusker Arjuna was one of the nine elephants that were part of the Gajapayana held at Veeranahosahalli in Hunsur taluk of Mysuru district on Sunday.

Tusker Arjuna was one of the nine elephants that were part of the Gajapayana held at Veeranahosahalli in Hunsur taluk of Mysuru district on Sunday. | Photo Credit: SRIRAM MA

New generation elephants

Of the new generation of elephants Bhima is the youngest of the lot and is 22 years old. He is already training and following in the footsteps of Abhimanyu and takes part in tiger combing and elephant capture operations and this is his second Dasara, having first participated in the festivities in 2017.

Mahendra, who is 39 years old and belongs to Balle elephant camp, is making his debut in the Mysuru Dasara this year. Like Bhima, Mahendra takes part in elephant capture and tiger combing operations.

The authorities are grooming a new generation of elephants to be part of Dasara once the seniors retire. They include Gopalswamy, Gopi, Dhananjaya, Kaveri, Lakshmi, Srirama, Parthasarathy and Chaitra who have taken part in Mysuru Dasara earlier and will pick up the mantle once Abhimanyu and company retire from service.


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Printable version | Aug 8, 2022 1:59:54 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/mysuru-dasara-a-jumbo-log-book-that-records-the-origins-of-dasara-tuskers/article65741317.ece