Mysuru: The population of elephants is decreasing and if no proper steps are initiated by the government then in another 50 years, there will be no elephants left In India, said retired forest officer K M Chinnappa.
Speaking during a program organized in memory of Dodda Masthi, the Mahout who recently passed away after serving Dasara Howdah elephant for 16 years, Chinnappa recalled how some years ago, while moving along Nagarahole forest, the excreta of elephants were even found on roads, indicating that pachyderms are there in good numbers. However, the situation now is quite different and alarming.
"It means the number of elephants is diminishing in the state. Apart from this, usually the female elephants used to be seen in groups but now single female elephants are seen roaming in the forest. When it is pregnant, if there is no proper companion the elephants become vulnerable. In last ten years in Karnataka state alone, 201 elephants have died. If this is the statistics of the Karnataka state think about Tamil Nadu and Kerala," he said adding that there is a need to conserve elephants because with the existence of elephants the forest cover will be good and since the elephants reproduce only once in six to seven years, there is need to protect their numbers.
He said that to protect them, forest fire must be curbed completely, they must be provided with 5000 sqkm of Nilgiri Biosphere reserve consolidated exclusively for elephants, they must be kept away from human interference and they must be provided with adequate water and natural food so that their numbers increase.
He pointed that a sum of Rs 70 cr is spent by people across the state on Ganesh Chathurthi alone. The same amount can be given to farmers whose crops have been lost due to elephant menace, which will be celebration of Ganesh Chathurthi in real sense.
Dodda Masthi is model to tribals
Though initially he was an alcoholic, he reformed himself and excelled his duty as a Mahout, due to which he was recognized by the Forest Department. Before taking responsibility of Arjuna, Dodda Masthi had trained several other elephants. Kariya, elder son of Dodda Masthi said “Arjuna was not easy to handle, but my father took it up as a challenge and tamed him. After successful dasara celebration, he along with Arjuna used to visit the temple in Balle. He was highly respected in the tribal hamlet for his straight forwardness. Most of the time he used to spend time with elephant," Kariya recalled adding that Dodda Masthi's last wish was to see his grandson Papanna as a Kavadi.
Tribals should stop drinking
D Rajkumar, wildlife activist who also spoke on the occasion called upon tribals to stop consuming alcohol. “The only problem with tribals is they consume alcohol more. If they stop this, they will be great asset. They should take leaf out from Dodda Masti and stop consuming alcohol. Training elephant is not an easy task, lot of risk involved these mahouts and Kavadis have got their own talent, they got trained from their parents. These mahouts and Kavadis carry their children wherever they go, the children initially start giving bath to elephants and gradually trained."
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