A year ago we received a grant request to help cover the food and healthcare costs of 13 elephants at the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve camp in Uttar Pradesh, India. Over the course of a year the camp has grown to 23 elephants with the addition of a mahout training workshop! Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), the Forestry Department, and Dr. Kushal Sarma have all been working tirelessly to improve the welfare of their elephants. The team used several medical tests and training tests to assess overall welfare of the charges. They also evaluated the comprehension of the mahouts in order to better educate them about training, husbandry, and foot care.
It has been found that closer regulation of these elephants is required to keep the standards of welfare and medical attention high. The report specifically states that the mahouts are dedicated to the keeping of their elephants and are eager to learn as much as possible to keep them healthy and content. We, along with WTI, share the idea that improving the lives and education of mahouts directly benefits their elephants. When a mahout can see a tangible change in the life of their elephant, they earn a sense of pride and a renewal of self-motivation to continue working for that animal and that in turn builds trust between the elephant and the mahout and everything begins to improve from there. We were happy to learn the mahout workshop was added to their plans for these elephants living in human care.