Neither elephant had ever learned to pick and give objects so I was prepared to start at the beginning and reward simply just touching the stick that they were supposed to pick up. Sundari was the first candidate and her motivation for food rewards is so high that she took only three repetitions to pick up objects and when with a little directional help from us on the ground, she was soon transferring a stick that she had been asked to pick up to a mahout on board!
Because things had been going so well and because of the possibility of our routines becoming stale, I decided that in the afternoon we should take both elephants on a ridden safari to the grazing grounds where they could freely graze for an hour or two. So we headed out, the two elephants with their mahouts aboard and the 15 or so mahouts and trainers on foot..
Today began again with Ben and myself feeling very enthusiastic about what lay ahead of us today after yesterday’s success. That went beyond all expectations.
We arrived at the Elephant Rehabilitation Centre in the Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kottoor in the morning to get a fuller picture of Unni during his early morning bathing time. Bathing elephants can take up to 2 hours as their entire bodies are scrubbed while they lay on their sides blowing bubbles and squirting water around.
The Assam - Kerala dichotomy in elephant training and management is like the French and German divide in horse training, only 10 fold deeper. So Kerala is a new frontier. This 7day workshop at the Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary is therefore the first one here in the state of Kerala, and today is demo day where I show the workshop participants and few dignitaries an example of our training.
The HELP Foundation is seeking two volunteers to take on the positions of Fundraising Director and Membership Secretary
Happy to announce our YouTube channel is now live! We will be keeping everyone informed with our work and progress with our short videos through out the year. Go to…
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.
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.
Today’s training session began with the appearance of the second elephant we were supposed to be training during this workshop however this particular elephant, Raku, never turned up on previous days owing to the various interruptions of the bull elephant.