Elephants are considered to be intelligent next only to man and predicting the behaviour of an elephant is difficult. When provoked, even a tamed elephant can suddenly turn violent and there are several instances where tamed elephants have trampled their mahouts to death in a fit of rage.
Surprisingly, Mysore Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens which houses eight elephants has only four caretakers for the past six years, three mahouts and one keeper. Earlier there were nine.
Whenever one of them goes on his weekly off, only three members will be taking care of these eight elephants. It indeed becomes a challenging task for the mahouts. Interestingly, Zoo has provided three caretakers for two African Elephants.
According to Zoo sources all the eight elephants are bathed once in a week and amongst them it is the elephant Rama who is considered very unruly and dangerous. It turns violent most of the time. At least twice or thrice every day they have to clear the elephants dung. But mahouts cannot devout all the time for these elephants as they are also assigned other duties and will be working under pressure.
If the elephants fail to obey their commands, they even cant use stick due to afraid of public who visit. Further each of the elephant to be trained to maintain human contact and there has also been a proposal to walk them around the zoo premises at least once a week.
Speaking to Express Zoo Executive Director Ravi said that a proposal for recruiting 160 staff under Cadre and Recruitment Rules is in front of Governing Council. In 160 staff, 97 post are meant for Assistant Animal Keepers. After the proposal is approved by Governing Council, further action will be taken by Zoo Authority of Karnataka.
Speaking to Express, Dasara elephant mahout Raju revealed that elephants are like our kids and each elephant needs at least two person to look after them properly. Sometimes it becomes quite challenging to make these elephants accept us.
'Though highly intelligent like us, still they are basically wild animals and training them is difficult. Just as we beat our kids when they disobey us, we sometimes have to beat them to instill fear in them. They recognizes our voice and respond only to our commands just as a kid responds to the mother.