Andrew’s blog: Back in Australia now.
My huge thanks to Christine Townend’s charity, Working For animals. WFA sponsored the entirety of our internal costs of travel and accommodation. Thanks again to all other donors.
Just thought Id let you know some further news. Before I flew back to Delhi, I had lunch with my old friend in Guwahati, Kaushik Baruah. Kaushik has elephants of his own and last time I was t his place we foundation-trained his young female Rohila. Kaushik was happy to tell me that Rohila is a perfect example of HELP’s training method. Kaushik is keen to help me with our next venture in Assam.
Then, when Ben and I flew back to Delhi I had a meeting with another old pal, Dr NVK Ashraf who treated me to a great dinner – if you haven’t had chicken kadai, (aka chicken chinita in south India), and you’re not a vegetarian, you should try it, its really something. Dr Ashraf had saved me some translations from Sanskrit of ancient equestrian documents on conformation and management. Interesting and detailed reading, as most of our knowledge in the west is western biased and yet the horse has been as valuable in the East as it has in the west.
Regarding the workshop, I implored Dr Ashraf to respond to the mahouts requests for more manpower for training this new way, as well as extra money to buy the food need for positive reinforcement. He noted and committed these issues and felt they are not difficult to arrange. In order to get the mahout school on the road, I flagged up the idea of writing a book with the WTI (Wildlife Trust of India), the Forest department and Dr Bhaskar. This book would form the basis of a curriculum and will encompass elephant biology, training, management, vet care, and other related topics and will inform development of a curriculum to be translated to Assamese (at first). Much of the book will be written by Indian experts in the field if available. I’ll begin my part and the draft asap.
The mahouts requested we come back more frequently and the WTI also requested that we stay for longer. It would be great if HELP could afford more frequent trips. Looks like they are keen to arrange another workshop, insurgencies aside, in October or November. Pity there are only 12 months in a year but let’s see what we can do.