Mysuru: A five-day National-level training workshop on ‘Capacity-Building of Mahouts’ organised by Mysuru Zoo in association with Central Zoo Authority (CZA), New Delhi for Mahouts and Kavadis of 10 Zoos across the country began at Mysuru Zoo yesterday.
The workshop will be held till Nov. 23. The training will be conducted for 59 Mahouts in two batches. 26 Mahouts from Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and other parts are being provided training in the first batch in elephant behavioural skills, food habits and ways of taking care of elephants. They will be taken to Dubare and other Forest camps as part of Capacity-Building. Experts from Chennai and other parts of the country will provide information about elephant care.
The second batch of training for Mahouts will be held from Feb. 4 to 8, 2019 at the Mysuru Zoo.
Speaking after inaugurating the workshop, Member Secretary of Karnataka State Pollution Control Board and IFS Officer Manoj Kumar extolled the skills of Mahouts who are involved in taking care of elephants at various forest camps, temples and Mutts.
He said that this workshop is organised with the main intention of enhancing their skills in elephant care and elephant management. He added that the Forest Department had organised several such training workshops to enhance the skills of Mahouts as Karnataka is harbouring highest number of wild elephants in the country. Some of the Mahouts were also sent to Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Assam, Uttar Pradesh and other States to hone their skills.
Pointing out that their services were in demand in various combing operations to track and capture rogue elephants, Manoj Kumar said that Mahouts and Kavadis had inherited these skills from their ancestors without going to any schools or educational institutions. Stressing the need for proper care and protection of Mahouts to promote the skills, the IFS Officer wanted Mahouts to develop a close bond with the elephants at various camps and Zoos across the country.
The Mahouts must take special care of elephants in this digital era as otherwise people will upload the pictures of elephants in case they are ill-treated, he said.
Interestingly, Manoj Kumar addressed the participants in six languages — Hindi, English, Kannada, Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam — as Mahouts had arrived from different parts of the country for the workshop.
Karnataka is home to 6,034 elephants, 450 tigers
Speaking on the occasion, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Elephant Project) Jagathram said that there are 6,034 elephants, 450 tigers, 250 leopards and other wild animals in Karnataka. He added that the Department is also taking care of these wild animals besides preventing man-animal conflicts, wild animals destroying properties and crops after straying into human habitats.
Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Member Secretary of Zoo Authority of Karnataka (ZAK) B.P. Ravi said that there are 140 elephants in forest camps, 42 at various temples and Mutts across the State and appreciated the skills of Mahouts who take care of elephants which weigh nearly 5,000 to 6,000 kgs.
He said there are nine Zoological Gardens in Karnataka and added that there were plans to set up Veterinary Hospitals to take care of wild animals at Hampi and Gadag this year.
Training programmes for veterinarians, assistant veterinarians and other staff who are taking care of elephants and other wild animals in Zoo and Forest camps were held at various places.
DCF Sidramappa Chalkapure, Mysuru Zoo Executive Director Ajit Kulkarni, Regional Director of Animal Husbandry, Chennai, Dr. N.S. Manoharan and others were present.