It was a great honour to Karnataka Forest Department as its elephants captured and tamed by experts from the state are now on demand from other states in the country.
There are several elephant capturing and training camps across the country including Assam, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra andTamil Nadu where a considerable number of forest officials and staff capture wild elephants that unleash terror in human habitation. They are captured and tamed using various methods.
Elephant capturing and taming process has been followed since thousands of years. For instance, in South Karnataka, the Dubare elephant camp in Kodagu is known to have tamed many rouge elephants.Situated on the banks of river Cauvery, Dubare is a historically important elephant camp managed by the Forest Department where elephants used in the Mysore Dasara processions are traditionally captured and trained. Today, it is mainly a rehabilitation centre where rogue elephants from the wild are caught and tamed to minimize conflicts with villagers.
The art of taming and training elephants goes back to nearly4,000 years and seems to have developed originally in Asia, from where it is believed to have spread to Africa and Europe. The art of capturing and taming an elephant slowly became a profession in itself, whose secrets were passed down the generations.
Once an elephant is captured, they are marched to a kraal, or a wooden enclosure, where they are trained. A kraal is a tiny, roofed enclosure of teak beams, measuring some 12 square feet. When the elephant enters the kraal, crossbars are placed and firmly wedged in place.
With strict discipline, captivity, pokes and jabs, the animal will be teached and sometimes it will be starved, to obey commands. In this training phase, the mahout gains the trust of the captive animal by kinder treatment and continuous attention.
In Karnataka, there are 126 tamed elephants in the nine elephant camps in Bandipur, Nagarahole, Bhadra and Bannerghatta NationalParks. These elephants are used to perform various tasks including carrying wooden logs, capturing wild animals and of course, the well behaved and sturdy ones are identified and are again trained for Dasara.
In 2015, the Uttarakhand government had written to KarnatakaGovernment seeking a batch of tamed elephants for its use in the JimCorbett National Park, one of the oldest and most visited park and known for its Bengal tigers. Acting on the request, the State government decided to send 12 elephants from select camps.
The selected elephants include 4 females and 8 male elephants.Two of the female elephants that were selected earlier delivered calves and one among the female elephants died after giving birth. Following this, we had to select two more female elephants as we decided not to send the elephant with the calf to Uttarakhand, said Dilip Kumar Das, Chief Conservator of Forests, Project Elephant.
Among the elephants, two will be from Bannerghatta National Park, four from Mathigodu elephant camp, three from Dodda Harave and three from Dubare elephant camp, he added.