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Indian elephant chaser

  A herd of elephants graze next to a road bridge across the Yamuna River on the outskirts of the Indian capital New Delhi. Surrounded by typical Indian shacks, there is no doubt that the elephants have their own owners. Sure enough, there was an advertisement posted on the slope below the bridge with a phone number and “elephant” written in Hindi. The reporter dialed the number and heard the answer: “I’m an elephant!” Zurifikar, the owner of the elephant, often answers the phone this way. According to him, “it’s convenient and customers like it.”
  Hereditary elephant herders
  Since ancient times, the skills of Indian When a rich man buys an elephant, he must hire an elephant driver, because he himself cannot control this behemoth.
  ”My family has always lived with elephants – my grandfather, great-grandfather and great-grandfather were all elephant drivers,” said Zurifikar proudly.
  Zurifikar’s family is from Ghaziabad in the western state of Uttar Pradesh. According to family legend, his ancestors were elephant runners during the Mughal dynasty. But only his father and uncle managed to save money and have their own herd of elephants. “My father and uncle are both famous elephant drivers, and I speak the truth! Even the government invited them to the celebrations in the capital on January 26 (Republic of India Day). Decided to relocate from Ghaziabad city to New Delhi. There is a lot of work here. So our family lived by the Yamuna River. Here we can find food and water for the elephants. When it rains, the elephants are put away Hide under the bridge.”
  Now there are nine elephants in their herd, and only two belong to Zurifikar. When the family property was divided, he got the female elephants Champa and Munnu. Elephant herders generally prefer adopting female elephants because the male elephant is occasionally aggressive and will throw off the person sitting on it.
  The Yamuna is one of the dirtiest rivers in India, but neither the herders nor the elephants care. The female elephant, Champa, happily lay down in the river and played with her nose slapping the water.
  The hereditary elephant driver Sanu, now 22, has spent 10 years with elephants. Sanu is one of four elephant drivers in Zurifikar, who work in shifts, one for each elephant. Sanu is reluctant to talk about himself, but when he talks about the female elephant Champa, he is very interested: “It likes to eat, especially sweet reeds. It can eat a lot of them!” The
  elephants eat sweet reeds in winter and fresh reeds in summer Grass, sorghum in the rainy season, and a special mix of rice and corn with sesame oil and reed sugar.
  After finishing Champa’s head, Sanu deftly controlled the behemoth, and the reporter and him slowly walked between the houses. “Elephants are complex animals like humans, and it’s not difficult for us to get along with them,” Sanu said.
  A hooked-pointed metal scepter (a symbol of power and deity in India) that Sanu uses only on grand outings. He likes to attend weddings and religious events, and he is reluctant to take tourists around the city like this, because there are many vehicles in the city and he is worried that he will hurt the elephants.
  Precious Satisfaction
  At this time , Mengnu was ready to work, and the elephant driver brought some stools and some paint. The main preparation before the elephant starts work is make-up: animals need to be painted with colorful patterns before the festival. Finishing takes 2 to 3 hours, and the patterns are traditionally handed down over the centuries, with occasional modern twists. The reporter once came across an elephant with a portrait of a local star painted on its waist. But Zurifikar disapproves of the new fashion, and his elephants are decorated in the old fashion. “We dressed them up like princesses, and Munnu was going to a big wedding,” he said.
  In wealthy families in India, elephants are required to participate in every major event. Weddings and religious ceremonies are the most lucrative for elephant owners. In addition, elephants can also be used as transportation for tourists, and the price of renting an elephant for half a day is 3,500 rupees (about 70 US dollars). Orders are not made every day, and revenue is greatly affected by season. Work is concentrated from November to April, then the hot and rainy season begins, with fewer weddings and fewer tourists.
  ”I have to feed these elephants first and then my family,” said Zurifikar. According to his estimates, it would cost 30,000 rupees (about $600) to feed an elephant, which is a lot by Indian standards. , equivalent to the salary of a medium civil servant. In addition, he needs to pay a monthly salary of 8,000 rupees (about 160 US dollars) to each of the four elephant drivers. By the end of a season, Zurificar will probably be making more than $1,000. By local standards, he was a man of security, at least he had a nice and decent house, unlike his elephant herders, who had to live in shacks by the Yamuna River.
  Traditional sentiment is disappearing Elephants have been riding tools for Indian rulers since ancient times, and today’s politicians are using sedans instead. Not long ago, the upper echelons of society also regularly hired elephants to participate in various celebrations. But two years ago, the central government banned elephants from participating in the National Day celebrations, so many Indians believe that the ceremony has lost some of its charm.
  ”Anyway, tough times have come!” sighed Zurifikar. “The government will never give us new permits for herds! They think we’re disrupting traffic in the city. All the environmentalists are against us. Permits The issuance system was enacted in 1950, but it was difficult to obtain a permit—by convention, it was only issued to households who directly operated the animal. Since 2003, the authorities have banned the sale of elephants completely, even from one state to another. Another state sends elephants through complex official inspections. Wild elephants in India have become less and less. The regulations of the Ministry of Forest Conservation and the Ministry of Natural Resources are completely understandable: female elephants produce fewer babies and are basically in the wild. Obviously, the government is worried that we go to tropical forests to catch them. There is one of India’s largest animal markets in Bihar, where other animals can be bought and sold, but elephants are prohibited!”
  ”How much is an elephant when it can be bought and sold?” The reporter asked Zurifikar. He was silent for a long time, and then said: “The price is equivalent to an expensive car, the most expensive car!”
  The fighting elephants used by Indian princes to trample the enemy’s army have long ceased to exist, and elephants are used on the dock to load and unload. Goods are also history. There are now fewer private owners of elephants. In New Delhi, according to Zurifikar, there are only 22 officially registered elephants left.
  ”If something goes wrong with my elephant, I don’t know what to do,” Zurifikar said with a sigh.
  Unlike his owner, Sanu is not too worried about the future. He said: “Elephants, like humans, have a relatively long lifespan, generally living up to 60 years old, and some can even live to 100 years old. The female elephant Champa is only 40 years old. I can live with it for a long time around the age of 20!” The
  young elephant driver also believes that the government can change the policy to allow the sale and purchase of elephants. Sanu also dreams of owning an elephant. He also doesn’t understand why many conservationists
  are also against personal ownership of elephants: “This is India! There are elephants here, just like Russia has horses!”

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