Kerala jumbo's long wait for trimming tusk nears end

Kerala jumbo's long wait for trimming tusk nears end

Biju, Vallabhan's mahout for the past eight years, said the elephant is showing discomforts due to overgrown tusk

Sree Vallabhan's mahout for the past eight years said the elephant's overgrown tusks are affecting his comfort and is not able to take coconut leaves which is one of its feed. Credit: DH Photo

Sree Vallabhan's months-long suffering is likely to end on Friday as the Kerala forest authorities are planning to prune his overgrown tusk.

Several elephants in Kerala are waiting for their tusks to be trimmed, which has been delayed due to the outbreak of Covid-19.

While elephant rights activists have questioned the need for pruning the tusk of captive elephants, mahouts claim that overgrown tusks are heavy and affect the food intake of jumbos.

The forest department had initially planned to trim the tusk of Sree Vallabhan, who is attached to the Malayankeezhu Sree Krishna Temple here, in February. But the procedure was delayed first because he was in musth and then owing to the lockdown.

Biju, Vallabhan's mahout for the past eight years, said the elephant is showing discomforts due to overgrown tusk and is not able to take coconut leaves which is one of its feed.

Vallabhan, aged around 20, was in news earlier for his drawing skills.

Kerala Animal Welfare Board member M N Jayachandran said the main intention behind trimming the tusk of pachyderm is to beautify the elephants so that its demand goes up. He also asked how non-captive elephants manage without any sort of tusk trimming process.

However, the caretakers of captive elephants claim that elephants in forests have natural options for trimming tusks during their routine activities in the forests. For captive elephants, there was no such scope and hence periodical trimming was required.

The forest department is only empowered to trim the tusks after examination by veterinary doctors. The pruned pieces are kept in a strong room of the forest department as trading of the tusk is banned.

Forest department sources said that every year tusks of around 15 elephants are trimmed. Usually, the tusks require trimming in every two to five years depending upon the pace at which it grows.