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Dedicated 'employees': Humble jumbos of West Bengal govt gear up for poll duties

They are also ready for their election duties, but with a catchline ‘No Politics Please’ in mind. They are around 100 adult, super trained, humble ‘Jumbos.’

, ET Bureau|
Apr 17, 2019, 12.07 PM IST
(Representative image)
SILIGURI: They are also ready for their election duties, but with a catchline ‘No Politics Please’ in mind. Despite being ‘on duty,’ at ‘own place’ serving with 100% sincerity and dedication, these loyal employees of West Bengal Government cannot cast their own vote. They are around 100 adult, super trained, humble ‘Jumbos.’

These captive elephants of West Bengal Forest Department are inseparable part of Election process in Northern part of the state that hosts a vast foothills and dense forest area under many reserved and unreserved forests including Buxa Tiger Reserve(BTR), Garumara National park, Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary or Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary.

“Beginning from getting election officials to remote polling centers, if needed, to controlling man animal conflicts, our elephants are always ready,” said senior officials from state forest department.

“Too good, too dedicated and too intelligent, these animals deserve all rights equivalent to any human being. But, despite being superior to us in many areas, by the decision of Mother Nature only, they are incapable of certain activities. Undoubtedly, these include casting vote,” said S. S. Bist, one of the world’s most regarded elephant experts and former Director- Project Elephant, India.

According to S. Sengupta, Field Director BTR, these jumbos have their service books, HR files or leave record. Their salary and parks are made every month. Expecting mothers are given ‘maternity’ leave from 6th month of their 22 months long gestation till 1 year age of the new born. At 60, they start enjoying retired life with lightest possible responsibilities.

After long training, they get into duties at an age of around 10. But nature of duty, varies depending upon health, attitude and aptitude as assessed by the veterinary experts and their ‘mahout,’ the keeper and best friend.

While the mountainous Shambhu is expert in capturing wild elephants, huge tusker Surya is jack of all treads. Humble Champakali is the beloved foster mother who even feeds calves of other mothers. Tarzan, now at his 25 years of age, is the fearless one. Urmila is excellent in tourist’s riding.

But, one thing is for sure common to all of them. Sincerity to duty, with no politics in mind.
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