Karnataka shifts 13 elephants in batches to Madhya Pradesh
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Karnataka shifts 13 elephants in batches to Madhya Pradesh

December 23, 2022

Mahouts, Kavadis unhappy as they are emotionally attached to pachyderms

Siddapur (Kodagu): The Karnataka Forest Department has begun the transfer of 13 elephants in batches from various elephant camps in the State to Madhya Pradesh. The purpose is to assist the Forest Department of that State in reducing the human-animal conflict and also ease the pressure on the identified elephant camps of Karnataka.

The camps that are giving the elephants are in Mysuru, Kodagu and Shivamogga. Following a letter from the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) and Chief Wildlife Warden, Madhya Pradesh, seeking transfer of camp elephants from Karnataka to Madhya Pradesh, the Karnataka Forest Department initiated the process to shift the identified elephants. 

A team of Forest Department from Madhya Pradesh visited the elephant camps at Ramapura in Bandipur Tiger Reserve in Gundlupet taluk, Dubare Elephant Camp at Siddapura in Kodagu and Sakrebyle Elephant Camp in Shivamogga where they identified the 14 elephants (12 male and 2 female). Though 14 elephants were identified for transfer, one male elephant died, reducing the number to 13 — 11 male and two female.

Subsequently, they submitted a detailed report to the Madhya Pradesh Government for consideration of their transfer from Karnataka. Following up on the matter, the Karnataka Government sought the opinion of field officers who approved the transfer and later, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change permitted the shifting.

The name of the selected elephants are: Krishna (21 yrs), Gaja (7 yrs), both male elephants, Marsiha (7 yrs) and Pooja (9 yrs), both female elephants — all four lodged in Ramapura camp of Bandipur Tiger Reserve; General Thimayya (8 yrs), Field Marshal (General) Cariappa (8 yrs), Valli (40 yrs), Lava (21 yrs) and Maruthi (20 yrs), all five male elephants from Dubare camp; Ravi (25 yrs), Shiva (6 yrs), Manikanta (35 yrs) and Bengaluru Ganesha (36 yrs), all four male elephants of Sakrebyle camp.

As per the agreement and the orders, yesterday, the five elephants were shifted from the Dubare Elephant Camp in trucks and the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department took possession of the elephants. They will subsequently reach Bhopal. The shipment includes Mahouts and Kavadis who will stay in Madhya Pradesh for some time till the elephants are acclimatised with new surroundings and new handlers.

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The Ramapura camp gave four elephants instead of five as the male pachyderm Ganesha (17 yrs) that was identified to be shifted died due to illness. The remaining four elephants have already been sent to Madhya Pradesh.

Now with the shifting, the Ramapura Elephant Camp has been left with 14 elephants, Dubare Camp with 27 and Sakrebyle Camp has 15 elephants.

Kodagu Chief Conservator of Forests B. Niranjan Murthy said that there are elephant camps at Dubare, Harangi, Mathigodu, Bheemanakatte and Balle in Kodagu with a total of 70 tamed elephants and two of them from Mathigodu camp have been sent for capture and taming of wild elephants and other departmental purposes.

Mahouts, Kavadis unhappy

Even as the process of shifting began, the Mahouts and Kavadis have opposed it as they are emotionally attached to the elephants. This apart, they are scared of losing their livelihood as they will be left with no job after the elephants are shifted.

Pointing out that they are not permanent staff, Dobi, State Vice-President of Mahouts and Kavadis Association, said that it is the Mahouts who have captured and tamed these elephants in deep forests and their livelihood is now under threat.

Urging the Government to regularise their service and also to hike their wages, he wanted the Government to address the issues concerning daily wage Mahouts and Kavadis, who are serving the Forest Department for years without any job security.

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