Elephant Balarama, who carried golden howdah for 14 years, dies
Mysuru: Elephant Balarama of Mysuru Dasara fame passed away on Sunday evening due to age-related ailments. He was 67. He was also suffering from various infections and had abstained from eating or drinking for a long time.
According to forest department officials and veterinarians, Balarama was suffering from TB. He started showing signs of illness on April 19. “He had stopped eating and drinking. When we diagnosed them, he found a sharp wooden piece stuck in his rectum. It had to be removed manually, following which IV fluids and a liquid diet were started. He started eating bamboo but then stopped eating again.
An endoscopy was done earlier this week and blood stains were found in the rectum, infection in the trachea and puss. All reports confirmed that he was suffering from tuberculosis for which the treatment was started, but all efforts failed,” said Nagarhole Tiger Reserve staffers.
Balarama was undergoing treatment in the Bheemankatte elephant camp. He was captured by the forest staffers in 1987 in Hassan. As per medical records, he was then aged 30. Born in 1958, the tusker had carried the Golden Howdah for 14 years, the highest for any tusker.
“Majestic and calm with good looks, he was the most preferred tusker. He was also used for training other howdah tuskers and keeping other camp elephants calm,” said senior forest department officials.
Weighing around 4,000 kg, Balarama’s weight plunged to around 3,200 kg. The forest department staffers will conduct the postmortem on Monday. He will be buried with state honours.
The carcass will not be left for the vultures to feed as per the directions of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change because he was suffering from tuberculosis.
“Most of the camp elephants suffer from TB. There are also chances of mahouts and kawadis getting infected. Annual checkups are done to ensure any infection is under control. While Balarama had TB, his mahout had tested negative,” the officials said.