The mahout of elephant John pelting him with a stone at Theppakadu.

‘Force used against camp elephant as last resort’

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The mahout of elephant John pelting him with a stone at Theppakadu.

With a video of an elephant in musth being “mistreated” by mahouts at the Theppakadu elephant camp, in the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR), going viral on social media, officials from the tiger reserve clarified that the technique to control the elephant was adopted as a last resort to prevent loss of lives.

According to a camp official, the elephant, known as John, had been in musth, a condition in which bull elephants are aggressive, a few days ago. The animal tried to attack mahouts charged with taking care of him.

In a clip of the incident, his caregivers are seen pelting the elephant with stones and sticks in a bid to control him. MTR officials said such “crude methods” of control have to be employed when an elephant becomes highly aggressive. One ranger said another camp elephant, Cheran, attacked his mahout while in musth last week, leaving him with fractured legs.

“These mahouts put their lives on the line every day, to keep the animals and humans safe,” an official said.

Officials also said the elephant became aggressive after his return from the Chadivayal elephant camp in Coimbatore in June. “He has not fully adapted to the change in his environment,” the official said and added that the animal has since been restrained and was being monitored by staff. They said he has suffered no injuries from the incident.


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