Indira, grande dame of Sakrebailu and K’taka’s oldest elephant, dies

Karnataka’s seniormost elephant died on Monday, at the ripe old age of 82. Indira died of natural causes at the Sakrebailu elephant camp, her home for the past almost 50 years.
Forest department officials and others offering tributes to Indira at Shettihalli reserve forest in Shivamogga I Shimoga Nandan
Forest department officials and others offering tributes to Indira at Shettihalli reserve forest in Shivamogga I Shimoga Nandan

SHIVAMOGGA: Karnataka’s seniormost elephant died on Monday, at the ripe old age of 82. Indira died of natural causes at the Sakrebailu elephant camp, her home for the past almost 50 years.
Indira was the grande dame of the Sakrebailu elephant camp, loved by all and known to have tamed many a wild elephant brought here over the past many decades. Indira herself had been captured in a khedda operation from Kakanakote forest in the Western Ghats in 1968.

Indira, forest officials said, was instrumental in taming many wild elephants brought to the Sakrebailu camp, which serves as a rehabilitation and training centre for ailing as well as captive pachyderms. There was a steady increase in the number of captive elephants in the camp and Indira played a pivotal role in it. Indira served the department well, ferrying wooden logs and taking part in public events. Her caretakers said she was known for her disciplined nature.

Mahout Jalil Ahmad looked after Indira in her twilight years. More than five of Indira’s mahouts who preceded Ahmed have since retired from service. Ahmad said, “Today we feel we have lost a family members Indira was very sober by nature. In my service of 20 years, I’ve never seen her display anger on any occasion. Any visitor could approach her without any fear. She was very popular among children.”

Indira used to be a regular participant in Rajyotsava celebrations, Shivamogga Dasara, nearby fairs, festivals and the camp’s own elephant festival. But over the past two years, she did not take part in any activity due to old age. Yet she was in better health compared to others at the camp. “Her teeth were in much better shape than the younger elephants,” said Ahmad.
The last rites were performed in Shettihalli reserve forest on Monday evening, in the presence of senior forest officers and caretakers

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