KOCHI: Migrant workers have been swarming job sectors like construction, textile, hotel, hair-cutting saloons and coconut climbing in Kerala for a while now. But the vocation of mahout thus far has resisted the migrants’ influx.
Experts say no migrant labour has been employed as a mahout in the state. They attribute it to the still burning desire among Keralites to become a mahout despite the pitfalls involved in the vocation. The statistics available with various Devaswom boards and elephant owners’ outfits underline this.
V Sasikumar, general secretary of Elephant Owners’ Federation, a body of over 350 elephant owners, said: “We had never felt labour shortage despite the fact that all other sectors have been facing acute scarcity of skilled workers.
“Instead, we often have to turn down the applications of aspirants as the job requires immense skill, courage, patience and perseverance while dealing with elephants. A mahout should also understand an elephant before taking up the job. He needs to be kind to the animal. Cruelty breaks them down and provokes them to be aggressive,” he said.
Sasikumar said it was a big challenge to choose the right candidate. The language barrier too might have been preventing the migrants from taking up the job. Guruvayur Devaswom Board officials said they have employed 150 mahouts for 56 elephants.
A devasom employed mahout on an average earns Rs 25,000-Rs30,000 per month. More: P6