Today's Paper

It's party time

JUMBO RIDE: A saunter. - Photo: M. Balaji

JUMBO RIDE: A saunter. - Photo: M. Balaji  

M. Gunasekaran

POLLACHI: : Come Tuesday (October 4) and 23 elephants of the Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park in the Anamalais will have a party. They will get a break from their monotonous menu of ragi, horse grams and saltlicks and will not be engaged for joyrides.

All these `concessions' are part of the Elephant Day, being organised as part of the Wildlife Week celebrations. And, more importantly, the pachyderms will have a chance to taste their favourite foods: sugarcane, jaggery and bananas. They will be given a bath twice that day.

According to wildlife warden V. Prabhakaran, visitors can witness a picturesque elephant procession. A special counter will be opened to help visitors buy sugarcane, jaggery and bananas for feeding the pachyderms.

The 958-sq.km-wide sanctuary has 23 domesticated elephants, including a two-month-old calf.

"This idea is to make the public understand that the endangered elephants are gentle giants, who mind their business when left alone. The conflicts between farmers and elephants occur only because of the pressure on elephants for fodder and water," says Mr. Prabhakaran. An elephant needs 150-200 litres of water and 250 kg of fodder a day.

The celebrations will make the public and farmers understand that the elephants are not villains, says range officer S. Thangaraj Panneerselvam.

The celebrations coincide with the golden jubilee of the elephant camp at Varagaliyar near Topslip.

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