Rajni at her Makulakocha home. Picture by Bhola Prasad
Tourists visiting Dalma wildlife sanctuary can now look forward to a jumbo ride round the sprawling hills.
Rescued elephant Rajni, who has been staying at Makulakocha village for two years now, will be the one to take tourists around. The latest experience is set to add to the attraction quotient of the sanctuary with Dalma becoming the first sanctuary in Jharkha nd to offer such rides for visitors.
Officials are at present working out the nitty-gritties and plans are afoot to procure a male elephant from Birsa Munda Biological Park in Ranchi for the same purpose and also give Rajni company.
Dalma wildlife sanctuary range officer Mangal Kashyap said they were worried about Rajni as she cannot be released in the wild. “The other three rescued elephants — Pagli, Basanti and Champa — will someday go back to their UP-based owner, but Rajni will remain with us. She has become fully domesticated and it’s risky to release her in the wild. So, utilising her for the ride was the best option,” he added.
He pointed out that tending to elephants was expensive so it made sense to use them for tourist attraction. “We can earn money by introducing elephant rides,” Kashyap said. The Ranchi wildlife division spends Rs 2,500 for feeding the four rescued elephants daily.
According to him, tourists will be charged Rs 500 for an hour-long ride in the hills. “Rajni is already four years old and will be ready for taking tourist for a ride in a year or earlier,” Kashyap said.
The range officer said Rajni will be trained by a mahout. “We have to train Rajni since elephant rides in a forest is a risky affair. One of the mahout will be recruited to train and accompany her during the ride,” Kashyap said. He added that Rajni is already being taken by a mahout for a walk in the hills everyday so it was expected that she will learn the ropes quickly.
Rajni was rescued by forest officials after she fell into a well at Ichagarh forest in Seraikela-Kharsawan in September 2010. She was taken to Makulakocha in early 2011.
The 192sqkm Dalma sanctuary has of late come up with several tourist attractions. The forest guesthouse at Pinderbera has been refurbished with new furniture and a fresh coat of paint. The watch towers have also been repaired and painted.
Besides, a brand new hideout near Chotka Bandh, a known elephant hub with a watering hole and a red clay field nearby, was inaugurated. Repair of seven existing ones dotting the sanctuary, the most popular of those being at Bijli Ghati and Nichla Bandh, is also on the anvil.