With only two months left for the annual Dasara festivities to begin, forest department officials are on the hunt for young elephants to be included in the team of Dasara jumbos this year. A team of foresters headed by DCF Kamala Karikalan visited various elephant camps in Bandipur, Nagarahole and Kodagu to identify new pachyderms to be trained in Dasara rituals. According to sources there will be no change in the team of male elephants with Arjuna continuing to lead the team. All the male elephants were found to be healthy and fit and the department is thinking to change the team of female elephants that were part of Dasara 2015.
Chaitra will not be part of this year’s team as she has just delivered a calf and a new member would assume her role. Once the list is finalised, a committee of senior officers will look into the team and take a final call. The decision of Principal Chief Conservator of Forests will be final, sources said.Gajendra, who gored his mahout to death was dropped last year and was under supervision. The forest officers also looking to include him this year.The selection of elephants for Dasara festivities form the major activity that gives a formal start to the festival. The selection will be done keeping in view health and other conditions. Once the list is finalised, the jumbos will undergo one-and-a-half-month’s rigorous training. The selected elephant team will arrive in the city in the second and third week of August as the festivities will begin from October 1.