KOZHIKODE: With three baby calves aged less than one year old arriving in last few months, the elephant camp at Muthanga in the Wayanad wildlife sanctuary is abuzz with their jovial screams. The baby elephants start their routines like feeding, walking, skill training and playing every morning assisted by specially trained mahouts.
For many years, the camp had only two elephants - Kunchu and Soorya. Soorya is old and furious and unable to carry out jungle patrol. Recently another kumki (trained in scaring away wild animals) elephant Pramukha was brought in from Karnataka to strengthen the elephant patrolling team.
Wayanad wildlife warden P. Dhanesh Kumar says the forest staff at Muthanga is busy feeding the calves while the vets give special care. They used to drink packets of lactogen as the animals are too small for milk feeding. The forest department incurs an additional expenditure of around Rs 10 lakh a year on them.
Though the visitors to the camp, including children, are eager to visit them, authorities discourage them. Kept in separate portions, they say two are physically weak and require extreme attention.
Mingling with people and other animals would put them in danger as they are vulnerable to diseases. Their herd abandoned all the three due to ill health.
One of the calves was received from Wayanad while the others were from Kannur. Now the camp has six elephants. "Moves are afoot to start elephant patrolling soon. The new Kumki is undergoing training in jungle patrol," he said.