Officials yet to handover new houses to beneficiaries
“We have to go wherever the elephants move. We do not have a roof over our head. We do not own a house. We have come here after Dasara celebrations,” said Jaya, wife of a mahout, at Mathigodu elephant camp near here recently.
There are 18 tamed elephants at the camp. Three elephants — including Bharatha and Arjuna — had been to take part in Mysore Darasa procession from the camp.
There are 20 families to look after the elephants at the camp. The forest department has constructed only 10 houses for 20 families. The remaining have been residing in huts made of plastic sheets.
Although a few new houses have been constructed a few months ago, the officials are yet to inaugurate the houses and hand them over to the families. All the mahouts and kavadis belong to Jenu Kuruba community in the camp.
The children in the camp grow up along with the calves and elephants. All the children are studying at Thithimathi Maroor Ashrama School. A few children and mothers are suffering due to lack of nutritious food.
A two-year-old calf, which had been separated from its mother inside the forest, is the darling of all the families in the camp.
Vinay, a tourist from Bangalore, said: “It is a tragedy that mahouts who have been adding
colours to the elephants taking part in Dasara celebrations do not have a roof over their head.”