Mahouts seek additional facilities to protect jumbos

Mahouts seek additional facilities to protect jumbos

The caretakers of Dasara elephants — mahouts and kavadis — have sought additional equipment to take care of the pachyderms in jungle camps. They are also seeking compensation in case of any untoward incident while tending to the jumbos. The mahouts and kavadis submitted a memorandum to Forest Minister R Shankar during his recent visit to the Mysuru Palace to distribute daily utility kits to them. The minister promised to take suitable measures.

The caretakers have stated that they lack basic facilities as well as equipment to protect elephants in the forests. The Dasara elephants, which are camping on Mysuru Palace premises, will return to their respective elephant camps in the forests after the completion of the Dasara Jamboo Savari on October 19.

The mahouts and kavadis hold overall responsibility of the elephants. They alleged that there are no adequate facilities to protect the elephants during an emergency inside the forest region. The Forest department has provided facilities, but, they are not sufficient, they said.

Vasanth, a caretaker of a Dasara elephant, said, “I have been assisting my father to tend to the elephant since childhood. There are no adequate facilities to serve the elephants. During emergencies, it is difficult to manage without proper equipment such as torch lights, machete, shoes among others.”

But, mahouts and kavadis, who are appointed as Group D employees, have no provision of compensation in case of an untoward incident.

As per the government order, compensation is fixed for forest guards, deputy range forest officers and range forest officers. As per the order, Rs 30 lakh will be given as death compensation, Rs 10 lakh for permanent disability and Rs 2 lakh for severe injuries.

No compensation is provided for mahouts and kavadis.