Stern lessons for naughty jumbos

Alipurduar, Feb. 1: Their keepers can't control them anymore, so Chanchal and Digambar, two Buxa jumbos, are being sent to more experienced minders in Jaldapara.

The mahouts expected to train the elephant siblings in Buxa are so scared to go near the two that they have failed to even mount them for several months.

Chanchal and Digambar are kunkis which work for the wildlife department in forests. They are used for ferrying logs and also for elephant safaris. But for the last one year, the two elephants have not been given any work.

Just as naughty children are taken to task in school by stern teachers, Chanchal, the 14-year-old who lives up to his name, and Digambar, 10, have been sent to Jaldapara wildlife sanctuary where experienced mahouts are expected to teach them some jumbo manners.

Chanchal was transported to the Shishamara beat of the Jaldapara (east) range yesterday in a lorry. Digambar reached there on foot today morning after walking 40km.

Digambar's mahout also walked with him. The elephant would not let him mount.

Chanchal, foresters said, was more mischievous than Digambar. He had to be sent in a lorry because he refused to walk.

It was almost impossible for the mahouts of both the jumbos to control them and they always had to be chained.

Parimal Adhikary is the mahout of Chanchal while Anil Barman is Digambar's mahout. Several times, Parimal was caught at the wrong end of Chanchal's bad temper.

Neither of the elephants has learnt basic lessons taught to calves about which the forest officials were worried.

The brothers were born in South Rydak beat in BTR (East).

The training centre at Shishamara beat, where the jumbo siblings have been sent, supposedly has the best training base for elephants in the state, considering its success rate of bringing up rescued calves.

The Shishamara beat has already reared eight calves successfully. However, the forest officials are apprehensive about Chanchal and Digambar as they are over ten years old, which makes them sub-adults.

S.S. Bist, an elephant expert as well as the principal chief conservator of forests, Bengal, said: " Just like children who become indisciplined because of lack of guidance, the jumbos have become unmanageable and ill-tempered. The inexperience of the mahouts also played a part in the unnatural behaviour of the elephants. I hope the expert mahouts in Jaldapara will be able to manage them and provide necessary training."

Another forest official said both the elephants realised from a young age that they are more powerful than men. "If the mahouts had been strict then the elephants would not have become so daring," he said.

On the other hand, rescued calves have a soft corner for mahouts as they get a secured life and remain grateful as well as obedient.

Rajendra Jakhar, the divisional forest officer of wildlife-III division, said: "We are more worried about Chanchal than Digambar and at the same time our staff is also determined to train them sincerely."

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