Friday, March 25, 2011

Elephants in Tiger Reserve

Shiva was touching eleven feet and weighed perhaps five tons whence it killed two people in Kanha. This was perhaps first such tragic incidence in the National Park. The elephant was in aggressive state of musth whence it mahout was transferred to control wild elephants in Sarguja District.

Elephants play a major role in tiger reserves of India. Ecologically they are destructive in reserves which are not natural elephant habitat. Bandhavgarh Gate is the best example of how these pachyderm have ravaged the forests.There is no historical record of these animals in the wilds of Madhya Pradesh. In such places they should be fed more and should not be allowed to forage in the forests extensively.

Anyway their role in tiger reserves is help patrol and protect from poachers. They are the prime attraction during the safaris whence the parks are open. Tiger show - much criticized in the past- is the best method to show tourists the magnificent animal in the wild.

Elephants are captured in Eastern and Southern India using various methods. They are then sold to buyers and are trained by elephant riders or mahouts. This might be not legal now. The training starts right from the young age. At Bandhavgarh I have experienced a young male being trained by the mahout it is a grilling exercise but definitely not cruel. Incidentally I was there whence a calf was born at the reserve. It was for the first time in the history of the tiger reserves that a birth had taken place in captivity.

Elephants in Central Indian tiger reserves are a prominent feature. In tiger show the tiger is traced by the elephants and mahouts and then cordoned. The tourist than ride on the elephant back up to the spot and brought back. It is a short ride but fulfills many a dream of sighting tiger in the wild as well as sitting on the huge beast. The most interesting part is how the huge beast traverses through dense forests engaged in active conversation with its rider.

Most of the preserves have six to eight tame elephants which provide yeomen services. The pachyderms though tame have a wild instinct in them for ever. They are like family members of the mahout for lifelong. There is a strong bond between the animal and its rider. It is an intelligent animal and very useful.

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