In a first, experts to train mahouts in Dudhwa

Shahjahanpur: In the first of its kind exercise, expert mahouts from across India and Nepal will hold workshops for five days from January 14 to 18 for mahouts of Dudhwa National Park and tiger reserve for improving the performance of camp elephants during patrolling and combing operations. The workshops will be held simultaneously at the elephant camps based in Salookapur in the core area and Bheera range.
Senior mahout from Mysore Zoo Kuddus, a woman mahout from Kerala, Nibha Namboodiri, and Nepalese mahout Nazir would be holding the workshop. Namboodiri has spent over 20 years in understanding the mindset of captive elephants and has a rich experience of handling them. This workshop is aided by Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and their veterinary Dr NV Ashraf is coordinating with the forest department for conducting this workshop.

The experts will also be sharing their experience regarding how to handle musth elephants when a male elephant becomes highly aggressive. Dudhwa had lost a male elephant, Batallic, which had gone musth and mishandling of the situation led to its death.

The workshop is being conducted after Dudhwa held two health camps and a special feast for its elephants. There are as many as 13 elephants based at Salookapur camp and the 10 elephants brought from Karnataka are lodged in Bheera range. The training of their mahouts at Bheera will help deploy the herd for full patrolling operations.

Dudhwa authorities also have taken up the responsibility of an abandoned calf, christened Durga.

According to Ramesh Pandey, field director of Dudhwa tiger reserve, “Such a workshop is the first of its kind in Dudhwa and it will help us move further in patrol elephant management here. We all know that elephants are extremely powerful animals and developing a correct perspective to acknowledge the problems faced by captive elephants will help in developing a great bonding with the animals. Such bonding will help mahouts carry out successful patrolling and combing operations.”

Forest department has deployed a dedicated mahout for each elephant and the services of daily wage mahouts is taken whenever needed. These temporary mahouts will also attend the workshop.

The main motive of this workshop is to sharpen the skills of local mahouts for creating a bond with the elephants which is essential for carrying out critical operations where a wrong step can prove fatal.

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