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Mother’s love and affection is not confined to just human beings. A similar kind of unconditional emotion of love and bond between mother and its child is invaluable. Elephants considered as most sensitive animal too and it is very unique in expressing its emotion of love and care of its child (calf).
The motherhood of elephants is a model and it has to face a very painful day of cry, agony and what not.., Yes.., this process is termed as weaning process.
Quite often, Sakrebylu elephant camp experiences and witnesses such a horrible day. Weaning day brings tears in the eyes of the department officials, mahouts, kavadis’ and villagers too. Outburst of emotion in the form of Cry, for a moment the entire forest comes to a standstill. This situation where it never thought and expected. Weaning often considered as separation of two lives! The Weaning Process :
From the time, the mother elephant gives birth to its calf, it would engage in nurturing and teaching its baby all those skills to survive alone.
Being weaned means that the calf no longer drinks milk from its mother, but is able to live only on vegetative food. For about 2 year and two months of three months, they stay together for everything right from nutrition to hygiene to health it take shelter under its mother’s supervision. It also teaches about the herd and the environment and to make a proper use of trunk for feeding, drinking and bathing.
Mahouts and Kavadis’ have to make required necessary preparations much before the day of weaning. Festive atmosphere in the Camp : .
Though weaning is a day of despair and misery, but it is a day of baby elephant entering into an ‘independent life’
On this day mahouts and kavadis’ offer special pooja in the darga situated in the forest. After the pooja they offer sweets to all. Later the forest official also offer special pooja to the baby elephant which is undergoing weaning. Everybody wishes the baby elephant that it lead good independent life’. With this best wishes, its time for separation/weaning!
Elephants of the camp supports both mother elephant and the baby elephant !
With the support of elephants of the camp both Kavadis’ and mahouts with their intelligence coupled with high degree of sensitiveness plays a crucial role in separation. They tie the mother elephant in between two other friendly elephants termed as ‘escorting elephant’. Likewise they also tie the baby elephant keeping two other elephants on either side.
They tie the leg and neck of the baby elephant that it should not show its resistance and to manage it.
In this state, both mother and baby elephants will be kept under the vigil of other elephants of the camp. Within next 10-15 days, both the elephants develops the competence to live independently.
Changes made in the process of weaning :
Earlier, the authorities used to separate the mother from baby elephant by taking the baby elephant inside the forest and keeping the mother in the camp. This was taking much time for the baby elephant to accustom to the environment.
Since 2012, the authorities making use of escorting elephants would keep mother elephant inside the forest while they keep the baby elephant in the camp itself. This is an innovative experiment done by the forest department authorities.
It is high risk to keep both mother and baby elephant together in the camp
New life emerges only with weaning
Elephants must be separated from mother and baby. Naturally, in the wilderness, both mother elephant and baby elephant gets separated in the herd. The baby elephant naturally learns to acclimatise with the herd.
But in the camp, separation itself is a major emotional situation as they live in a controlled situation. Till the time, the baby elephant gets separated from its mother, it won’t listen to the words of the mahouts. It is very difficult to tame the baby elephants till it is in the shelter of its mother. Similarly, the mother elephant too not listen to mahouts, because of its love and affection towards its baby calf. This poses a threat to the general public in the camp.
To make the baby elephant to lead an independent life, weaning is a must. In this process, the baby elephant has to be weaned off its mother’s milk completely and sending it to kindergarten. Both mother and baby elephants will be nurtured separately for about 15-20 days. Priority of attention to the separated mother and calf:
Special attention given to both mother and baby elephants for about 15-20 days. There are chances that they may give up food. So, a kavadi will keep 24X7 vigil on the baby elephant and he starts showing motherly attitude to it. He takes care of it from providing food to bathing to drinking and nurturing it completely. Kavadi and mahouts shows motherly attitude to the baby elephant showering love and affection.
After 20 days, even if the baby elephant goes near to its mother, there will not be such intimacy. This was the clever and sensitive move of mahouts and kavadis’ in this weaning process. New life in the camp :
New life starts in the camp with the weaning process. Separate new mahout and kavadi will be appointed to take care of this new elephant. Both mahout and kavadi will teach all those regular routine life of the camp to the elephant. He also imparts listening to his words and communicates with it. Mahout takes control of the elephant and partly, the baby elephant relieved from the clutches of love and affection of its mother.
Similarly, the mother who experienced emotional despair, gets settled with the idea that ‘though my baby is not with me, I can watch it from the close!’
This paves the new life in Sakrebylu camp with baby elephant set on to learn new independent life!
Though weaning process separates the relationship, it teaches a life of how to be independent and live in harmony in the herd. Weaning turns into a ‘socialisation’ and harmonious living too!