Language problem torments elephants in their new home in Jharkhand

Language problem torments elephants in their new home in Jharkhand

PATNA: Elephants lodged at a local tiger reserve in Jharkhand state are caught in language mess.

The problem with them is that they only respond to commands in Kannada, a Dravidian language spoken mainly in southern Indian state of Karnataka, while the local mahouts employed to train them know only Hindi.

The result is that the new guests find themselves at sea and are not responding to the Hindi commands of the local mahouts.

Kaal Bhairav, Sita and her calf Murgesan, as such, grew up at Karnataka’s Bandipur National Park and thus knew only Kannada, their mother tongue.

Last month, however, they were shifted to Palamu Tiger Reserve located in the Hindi heartland of Jharkhand.

Local authorities never imagined that the language trouble would torment the mammoth so much. This was noticed when the elephants refused to respond to Hindi commands of the local mahouts assigned to take care of them.

This has prompted the authorities to train both the elephants and the local mahouts—while the local mahouts are being taught Kannada commands, elephants being taught Hindi, to overcome the language problems.

“Elephants only understand phonetics and body language. The difference in phonetic pattern of Kannada and Hindi is impeding their understanding, causing poor responses to commands in Hindi,” Palamu Tiger Reserve field director MP Singh told a local media.

Keeping in view the peculiar trouble, the authorities are now taking assistance from two mahouts from Karnataka to help settle the elephants at an unknown and completely unfamiliar location having a different language.

They are also training the local mahouts to know some important Kannada commands to converse with the tuskers.

“Elephants usually develop a very close bond with their handlers. Communications between both of them is very complex. It will take time before they start trusting new handlers and adjust to their commands,” an expert in elephant behavior Dr DS Srivastava was quoted as saying in the Hindustan Times.

Representational image

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