Assam shows signs of change | Andrews Blog

When we reached the mahout camp, we were told that there were 2 three-year-old elephant calves with their mothers that would arrive from the jungle for us to begin our training. One female called Neela and a male called Monish. In the meantime the mahouts spent time cutting up sugar cane into bite-sized chunks to be used as food rewards, with a few bananas thrown in as well.

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Back to school & health inspections

The great thing about the husbandry of these Government Forestry elephants is that they live in the National Park. They are set free during the night and in the morning they return. They breed this way, the females finding a wild bull in musth when necessary. So this morning Dada was nowhere to be found. He was somewhere within 10 kilometers of forest so a party was sent out to retrieve him. (He arrived of his own accord in the afternoon).

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Return to Assam

October 13 Today is our day of travel from one corner of India to the other in 14 hours. We left our hotel at 4.30 am and then flew from…

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Hasthisiksha!

There were 23 mahouts who arrived for the workshop. Our first task was to find out how much of what they had learned last time had been remembered and utilised. It was encouraging to hear senior mahouts who had been training the traditional way for such a long time telling of their success with using combined reinforcement (mix of positive and negative reinforcement.

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Back in Australia.

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.

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Day 6. Purdoi shows off her progress.

Today is our final day of training for this workshop and WTI (Wildlife Trust of India) had arranged a feast to celebrate the workshop, at the mahout’s quarters – a robust building on stilts to avoid the annual monsoon flooding. There the 13 or so mahouts cooked us an Assamese specialty - a great spicy lunch of various curries and rice cooked in overly large pans on pit fires.

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