53 tuskers in Kerala undergoing ‘tusk make over’

Guruvayoor (Kerala) July 11 (IANS) At least 53 elephants attached to the Sri Krishna Temple here will go through the tusk make over process wherein the tusk is trimmed to a certain length.

“Every year elephants undergo the rejuvenation therapy that’s supervised by elephant veterinarians,” a person from the temple told IANS.

At Guruvayoor, the chiselling of the tusk is done under the watchful eyes of the local forest official. The tusk and pieces that are chiselled are collected by these forest officials to be taken to the museum.

The temple is the single biggest owner of captive elephants in the state and has 58 elephants of which 53 are tuskers and five are female with no tusks.

“The rejuvenation therapy, includes resting, a prepared diet chart and also treatment with allopathic and ayurvedic medicines. Depending on the need, the tusks are trimmed,” said an official on the condition of anonymity.

This tusk make over is done by a father and son duo, who have expertise in this skill.

“The sizing of the tusks for captive elephants is a normal practice,” elephant expert Jacob Cheeran told IANS.

“This exercise is mainly needed for captive elephants. Unlike wild elephants, there is no normal wear and tear since captive elephants are not involved in any hard work. Generally, once in 18 months around nine inches of each tusk is cut and given a shape,” said Cheeran.

The value of elephant ivory in the market is around Rs.10,000 for a kilo, depending on the size of the ivory. An average tusk of nine inches weighs around 10 kilogram. The elephant lies down during the tusk make over process. The chiselling takes approximately two hours.

The month long tusk make over that began on July 1 will end on August 1.

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