The Forest Department has sought the permission of the state government to recruit mahouts and kavadis to take care of 13 wild elephants which were captured in Hassan and Kodagu districts recently.
At present, there are 93 captive elephants in four camps — Dubare, Anechowkur, Dodda Harave and Mattigodu — in Hunsur territorial division.
The recently captured elephants are also housed in these camps resulting in a shortage of handlers to take care of the new ones.
Sources told Express that the department has to appoint a mahout and a kavadi for each wild elephant for the six to eight month training period. “Our target is to capture all the 25 elephants and put them in camps till they reform”, said a senior official. He said most tribal youths have migrated to cities in search of jobs. Hence, it has become difficult to get suitable candidates for mahouts and kavadis.
The handler’s job is not only laborious, but also requires total dedication to their jumbos. The staff at the camps is sufficient for the present captive elephants but any addition is a burden on the existing workforce. Hence, the department is looking to recruit around 25 mahouts and kavadis as well as one or two veterinarians.
The addition of the 13 elephants in these camps has also increased the maintenance cost. According to an estimate, the department spends around `1.5-`2 lakh on each elephant. Now, it will be around `26 lakh. The department has also requested the government to release additional grants for this as well as salary for the staff.
Unlike public adoption of animals in zoos, there is no provision for adoption of captive elephants in camps due to accounting problems. Wildlife enthusiasts have adopted elephants in Mysore zoo and the donation comes to around `1.5 lakh, the officer said.