Tusker Shankar who killed 3 people being trained to ward off wild elephants

A 35-year-old tusker, ‘Shankar’ who was captured at Gudalur as a wild elephant after killing three men will soon become a trained ‘Kumki’ elephant to be used against wild herds.

The elephant is being trained at the Madumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) by a team of mahouts to make him a ‘Kumki’ elephant. The elephant was put in a Kraal (wooden enclosure) in February 2021 at the MTR and came out of it in June after 141 days. Ever since he has been undergoing hard training to become a ‘Kumki’ elephant.

To train an elephant, 48 commands are given and according to a mahout who is involved in training the elephant, Shankar was making excellent progress.

Karuppusami Manikantan (43), a mahout at MTR, told IANS “Shankar was initially a bit reluctant to obey the commands and I can vouch that he is picking up fast and he has already learned 20 commands which is a very positive sign. Hope to complete the training in the next few months and prepare him for his next assignment as a ‘Kumki’ elephant.”

The training involves raising the trunk, raising a front leg, back leg, and also trampling upon the chain tied on another ‘Kumki’ elephant’s legs, and Shankar, according to the mahouts is making excellent progress in these areas.

The mahouts said that generally wild elephants who come out of the Kraal misbehave and are difficult to tame but Shankar has progressed fast and is accepting the training schedule.

The tusker is being looked after by Dr Rajesh Kumar who is the Assistant Veterinary Surgeon. He said that the elephant is fed 11 kg of rice, green gram, ragi, coconut, sugarcane, and jaggery twice a week.

‘Kumki’ elephants are used for chasing away wild elephants from human settlements and an elephant like Shankar who was a tough tusker becoming a ‘Kumki’ would help ward off the threat of wild elephants.

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