Managing ageing tuskers in Dasara an arduous task: Officials

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Mysore, Sep 7 (UNI) The Mysore District and Forest Department officials were facing problems in managing ageing tuskers during the Dasara festival here.

Forest department sources told UNI that minimum three tuskers would be replacing a 50-year-old 'Balarama', carrying 750-kg Golden Howdahs with the idol of goddess Chamundeswari during the Vijyadhashmi procession next month. The probable aspirants, included Arjuna, Vanaraja and Jayaprakash, of whom only Arjuna was familiar with its intrinsic ability and uncanny anticipation to emerge with flying colours on the occasion of Dasara.

Even though, Balarama has enough strength to continue for another three more years, but it was time for the authorities to groom other tuskers, if the situation warrants, the sources said.

The officials were on the look out for a tusker with majestic built and a flat back to balance the Howdah. Since not all the elephants wee endowed with a flat back, many were denied the responsibility of completing the onerous task of carrying the Golden Howdah.

Physically built apart, the forest officials also looked for emotional and intelligent quotient in the elephant and its ability to withstand noise. In particular, the officials watch their behaviour under stressful conditions and not all elephants have the resilience and strength to maintain equanimity when pushed to the limit, said Dr Nagaraj of Veterinary Department.

Dr Nagraj said for instance, during Dasara, lakhs of people gather along the procession route while thousands converge around the caparisoned elephants, creating a din and noise which was stressful for the animals.

In addition, the echo of the 21 gun-salute and its reverberations could cause panic among the elephants. So it was a must that the elephants match their size with proper temperament, which was, indeed, a rate combination, he added.

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