If you thought that only humans have language barriers, this might change your opinion. Local mahouts at Jharkhand’s Palamu tiger reserve are having trouble commanding the three new elephants that have been brought to the tiger reserve from Karnataka’s Bandipur National Park.
Why, you’d ask. Since these mammoths are trained in Kannada, they can’t understand anything but their ‘mother tongue’.
So now, to make sure that the mahouts’ message is not lost in translation, the elephants will be taught Hindi.
“Elephants only understand phonetics and body language. The difference in phonetic patterns of Kannada and Hindi is impeding their understanding, causing poor responses to commands in Hindi,” said reserve’s field director MP Singh.
Currently, two mahouts and a kawadi from Karnataka are helping the three elephants, Kaal Bhairav, Sita and her calf Murgesan settle in the new environment.
These elephants were transferred to Jharkhand on March 27, to be a part of the jungle patrolling team and also the safari expeditions.
Mahouts from Karnataka were helping the local mahouts to ensure that the elephants have a smooth transition from Kannada to Hindi.
“Earlier, we expected this to happen in a month’s time, but it is now expected to take longer,” Singh said.
Dr. DS Srivastava, a member of the Jharkhand wildlife board and an expert in elephant behaviour, said that it was very normal for the elephants to have difficulty in obeying commands from a different person, in a different language.
“Elephants usually develop a very close bond with their handlers. Communication between both of them is very complex. It will take time before animals start trusting new handlers,” he explained.
Not just the elephants, but the local mahouts too will have to follow the learning process. Local mahouts will have to learn the Kannada commands from the mahouts from Karnataka; then they will have to train the animals to respond to the same commands in Hindi.
Information and cover image sourced from hindustantimes