New tusker being groomed to shoulder 'Golden Howdah'

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Mysore, Oct 2 (UNI) One more tusker would join the select band of 12 elephants adding attraction to Mysore Dasara festivities this year.

Forest Department sources told UNI 40-year-old Vanaraja was likely to shoulder the responsibility of carrying the 'Golden Howdah' during the 'Jamboo Savari' in the future.

He was brought from the Banneraghatta Wildlife Sanctuary. As the Howdah elephant, Balarama, crossed 50 years, there was a need to find a replacement.

The Forest Department has decided to expose Vanaraja to the festivities to 'prepare him to carry the 750-kg 'Golden Howdah' with the idol of Goddess Chamundeswari, the principal deity of the Mysore City.

Vanaraja was captured at Bandipur National Park Range in 1978 when he was around ten years old.

Dr Nagaraj, veterinarian-in-charge of the elephants, told UNI that selecting a tusker for the arduous task of carrying the howdah was not easy.

Apart from being flat backed, it should be suited to withstand the rigours, be clam and not panic under any circumstances. Although many elepahts are majestic, they fall short in their temperament, he added.

Vanaraja would mingle with other Dasara elephants and his behaviour would be observed.

Plans are on to groom him as successor to Balarama. But only time will tell if he is suited for the job. Till then, Balarama would continue to don the mantle, Dr Nagaraj said.

Vanaraja was accommodated at a distance from the rest of the herd camping at the premises of the Mysore Palace. He also joined the rehearsal and walked along the procession route with fellow tuskers.

UNI BSP RL RAI1057

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