Elephants, mahouts at Chitwan breeding center underfed
CHITWAN, Dec 21: For the last six months, 56 elephants reared in Sauraha Elephant Breeding Center at Chitwan National Park (CNP) have not been fed properly. Not only the elephants but the mahouts also are facing hand to mouth situation as the supply of allocated ration has become irregular.
According to Chief Conservationist at CNP Jhamak Karki said the contractors responsible have not been delivering the food rations of the elephants and the mahouts on time.
"When the contractor was unable to supply the food regularly, we gave the task to another contractor, but food supply still remains irregular," said Karki.
Now the centre has been feeding the elephants by buying food from the local market. As a result the center is in heavy debt, according to Karki.
"Taking care of these animals is a difficult job and feeding them full stomach is much harder," said mahout Surendra Chaudhary.
A hungry elephant named Bahadur Gaj had escaped from the centre and entered the forest in search of food. It took two weeks of hard work for the center to bring the elephant back from the jungle, according to Chaudahry.
"They become aggressive when they don´t get enough to eat and it is very difficult to tame such elephants," said Netra Bahadur Darjee, a mahout. An elephant needs at least 15 kilo of paddy and 1.5 kilo of molasses per day, he said.
Mahout Chaudhary complained that the center also lacks adequate manpower to take care of the elephants. "The present arrangement of two caretakers per elephant is not enough," said Chaudhary.
According to Ramesh Chaudhary, the chief of the center, Mata Santoshi Food Suppliers owned by one Ramhari Neupane had won the contract for supplying food to the elephants and their caretakers.
He said among the 56 elephants at the centre four of them have to be fed with milk and molasses and the mahouts/caretakers are entitled to a food ration of 933 grams per head per day.
Chaudhary said they have been purchasing food for the elephants and them on loan but they don´t know how long can this continue.