Thursday, June 20, 2013

Shivaji elephant in Kanha

In 1970's Bori presently in Satpura National Park was the only place in M.P. where elephants were used for logging. M.P.Forest had few elephants in British period but they were used for other purposes than logging. Forsyth used forest deptt. elephant from Bori to Pachmarhi. Bori is famous for its teak forest. So when forest deptt needed some elephants for logging they brought them from Kerala. 
As Nayar's (Mahavat of Gautam) wife aka Chachi told me that they reached Bori on 2nd August 1971 with Gautam and Shivaji. Gautam and Shivaji came from a place called Badaliyaar (spelling may be wrong) in Kerala. First thy were stationed at Dhai'n and later shifted to Bori.
According to Chachi Bori was a real difficult place to live. No market to buy any kind of food supply. We use to rely on forest deptt drivers to bring us some food supply from Hoshangabad. She remembers one C.F Mr S P Dubey who always brought Vegetables and other provisions for Mahavats. In those days Characutters, most of them batchlors, use to eat from Mahavat's kitchen. They were a part of the family like elephants.
Once the logging was stopped forest department shifted these elephants to Kanha and Bandhavgarh National Park to make good use of them for Tourism. This is when Tiger show started in M.P. Baiting was allowed so every saturday forest department use to tie a bat for Tiger show on sunday.  On Tiger show only 30 Rs were charged for four pax on Elephant back. No discrimination of Nationality. All were counted as human. Gautam was sent to Bandhavgarh after spending some time in Kanha. Even Mahavir was also transferred to Bandhavgarh but he could not cope with food supply here. He thought Tala is worst than Bori. He was sent back to Kanha where nearest market was Chiraidongri 35 km away.
Although Mocha and Sarekha were rated as lifeline to get regular vegetable supply of Potato and Onions. Daal Roti was routine meal and Sabji was feast.
All those Mahavat's did pretty good job in those days. I remember Sursingh in Kanha use to go in afternoon to look for Tigers so he know from where to start next morning. His son Dharam became a very good Mahavat. But I don't think the present generation of Mahavats is as sincere as of those days. Elephants use to get good bath in the river. I remember Lakhnu in Kanha shouting on his characutter only because he did not rubbed his Elephants tusk properly. Those were the days.
Gautam's master Nayar had very good rapport with his elephant and on other side in Kanha Shabir had even better rapport with Shivaji. Chachi had better command on Gautam than her husband Nayar. Best display of loyalty from Gautam I saw in 80's only. Later when other Mahavat got him he refused to obey the command. Once a Mahavat got off Gautam to pick up Ankush, Sharply pointed Iorn rod, and he refused to get him on on his back.
Shabir in Kanha mastered his Elephant Shivaji so well that once when he killed a forest guard and deptt was ready to shoot him, Shabir walked forward called him and brought him back home on foot like a pet dog.
Since we have lost all those old Mahavats who use to take care of their animals we are loosing obedient elephants too. Indrajeet in Bandhavgarh was a living example of this. Sundargaj and Vanraj are the two young elephants which are completely destroyed by Characutters. At one time these two elephants were the first choice of every photographer who use to use Elephant Tripod. 
I have asked forest department to do some Characutter training program in monsoon so let us see which Mahavat they call for training. My choice is Shabir for this job.

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