BENGALURU: While the Nada Habba-Mysuru Dasara celebrations will be a low-key affair this year too, there is a question mark over which elephants will be allowed to participate.
This is because it is not just the mahouts, kavadis, Dasara organising committee members and officials from the state government who should have a negative COVID-19 test report, but even the elephants.
Last year, the elephants were tested when they were brought to Mysuru after the Gajapayana. Instead of the usual group of 13-14 elephants, last year only five were brought -- three males and two females including Abhimanyu (who carried the golden howdah), Vikram, Cauvery and Vijaya.
This year, the forest department, veterinarians and officials from Mysuru District Administration have decided to go to the camps and do the testing.
“A team, headed by veterinarians, will go to the Mysuru and Kodagu elephant camps and check the health of these five elephants. Once their medical reports show they are healthy and their COVID-19 test reports are negative, the final list of elephants participating in the Dasara celebrations will be prepared and the next course of action will be decided,” said a senior forest department official.
He added that assistance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change is also being taken, as elephants are listed under Schedule-1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
It has also been decided to test all the other camp elephants, as these five interact and reside with other jumbos too. “Normally animals carry many viruses, so while testing, a certain procedure needs to be followed and the samples need to be analysed in detail to have a thorough check,” the official said.
The Mysuru Dasara committee is scheduled to have a meeting to decide on the preparedness in early September, but before that they want to undertake a health check-up of all the elephants. Discussions with experts will also be held to help in following the protocols for elephant safety.