It was a poignant scene at Hathi Gaon situated near Amer Fort in Jaipur where elephants and their mahouts were seen together paying floral tributes to the Kerala tusker and her unborn calf killed by explosives planted in a pineapple.
The elephants together stood straight, then garlanded the elephant's picture and offered flowers to it in complete harmony on Thursday.
In fact, many elephants also raised their trunk up as if to say "Rest in Peace" to their fellow pachyderm who lost her life to sheer human cruelty.
Speaking to the media, Aseef, a caretaker of elephants said, "Together, we bow our heads down with the incident which has been reported in Kerala. Humanity has lost its definition and soul."
"We have been living with elephants since the last many centuries and this incident has left us redfaced. Trying to emerge as humans, we organised a ceremony to pay rich tributes to the departed soul."
"The dead elephant's picture was staged right at the centre of the ground where we paid rich tributes to it. Even elephants came ahead to honour it by raising their trunks together."
"We and our elephants have shared a long-term family bond. Even during the testing times of corona, we are raising our family members (elephants) by keeping ourselves hungry for one time in a day. Many of us have borrowed loans to feed our elephants," Aseef said.
"These mute animals help us earn our daily bread. Now, in these testing times when there is lockdown all across and no tourists coming anywhere, it is our duty to help and feed them," he said.
Elephants from Hathigaon are known across the world for taking travellers to Amer Fort who ride on their backs into the pristine past of the royal era of Rajasthan.
It is the only fort in India where elephant rides are an attraction for foreign and Indian tourists.
Amid the lockdown, it has become difficult for these elephant owners to satisfy the "elephantine" needs of these gentle giants, but still the mahouts are spending Rs 3,000 a day to feed them.
Earlier, former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, who was instrumental in the setting up of Hathi Gaon or 'Elephant Village' in Jaipur, expressed grief over the Kerala incident.
"The horrific incident involving a pregnant elephant in Kerala has left me deeply disturbed. Majestic & sacred, elephants are held to be the reincarnation of Lord Ganesha. Symbolic of strength & determination, the treatment meted out to them by some unkind souls is shameful. The perpetrators deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law," Raje said in a tweet.
Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat who is an MP from Jodhpur in Rajasthan also mourned the death of the pregnant elephant in Kerala and termed it as an incident of shame to mankind.
Shekhawat said the inhumane act of feeding a hungry, pregnant female elephant with a pineapple filled with firecrackers has raised questions on humanity.
Elephants have been a significant part of Jaipur's history and culture since the last 400 years. A total of 104 elephants are present in Amer. The birth of calves is celebrated in the entire mahout community of Jaipur.
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