Mysuru: Arjuna, the howdah elephant, will be 60 next year and will be carrying the 750 kg golden howdah for the last time in 2020. Based on the court's direction elephants aged 60 years and above are not supposed to carry heavy objects. As Arjuna will have to retire next year, 53-year-old Abhimanyu from the Muthigodu Elephant Camp, who has been part of the Dasara celebrations for over 18 years, is the front runner to replace him.
Abhimanyu has served as a standby for Arjuna for the past couple of years. He is considered as the king of the forest, a troubleshooter and a sort of assault rifle all rolled into one by the forest officials. So far Abhimanyu has not only helped officials capture more than 200 elephants in the last nearly three decades, but has also carried Ambari during Srirangapatna Dasara. He is also considered to be an expert in capturing tigers. According to experts, including veterinarian Dr Nagaraj, Abhimanyu is capable of carrying the golden howdah.
Dr Nagaraj told Newskarnataka, “As per the court order, no elephants over 60 years of age should carry excessive weight. That is why Arjuna will be carrying the golden howdah for the last time next year. We have Abhimanyu, who has an abundance of experience and has been Arjuna's alternative for many years, will be replacing him. To take Abhimanyu's place, we are grooming Dhananjaya, Gopi, Eshwara and Bhaskara."
“While we have Abhimanyu to replace Arjuna, we don't have many options to replace him. That is why we are bringing new elephants this year and training them so that they will become able leaders,” Alexander, DCF (Wildlife).
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