Wildlife enthusiasts and forest officials lauded the hard work rendered by mahouts and kavadigas in taming wild elephants and taking care of them at Sakrebail elephant camp near Shivamogga in Karnataka.
“The caretakers of elephants have a tough job on their hands,” said Jesudas, one of the founders of Wild Tuskers Sakrebail, a non-government organisation that organized an event on October 19 to thank the caretakers ahead of Dasara celebrations.
Around 40 mahouts and kavadigas take care of 20 elephants in the camp. Each animal is normally handled by two persons. The animals are left in the wild at night. Mahouts and kavadigas go in search of their animals in the forest early in the morning, and bring them to the camp by 8.30 a.m., which is when the camp is open for tourists.
The animals are taken to the Tunga river for a bath. After serving food to the elephants, the caretakers leave the animals back in the forest late in the afternoon. “Again, the next morning, the caretakers’ day begins with a visit to the forest to find their animals,” said Jesudas.
Wildlife enthusiasts joined hands to set up Wild Tuskers Sakrebail during the COVID-19 pandemic. The organisation responded to the problems faced by elephant caretakers during those difficult days.
“We have been with the caretakers whenever they are in trouble. The organisation will continue to respond to their problems. I will put pressure on the government of Karnataka to regularize the services of caretakers working on a contract basis”, said M. Shrikanth, honorary president of the NGO, and a Congress leader.
Prasanna Krishna Patagar, DCF (Wildlife), said the caretakers, who are Group D employees of the department, play a major role in managing the elephant camp. “Sakrebail elephant camp has become a major tourist attraction in Shivamogga district. The credit should go to the carekaters,” he said. He also appreciated the NGO for addressing the needs of the caretakers.
The NGO distributed uniform sets to the caretakers and other staff members at the camp.
M. Shrikanth, honorary president of the NGO, DCF (Wildlife) Prasanna Krishna Patagar, Dr. Vinay S., Chief Veterinary Officer of Wildlife division, N. Manjunath, president of Shivamogga Press Trust, Deputy Range Forest Officer Mallikarjuna, wildlife enthusiasts, and the caretakers, besides journalists, had lunch together in the camp..