Kerala’s forest is famous for elephant and tigers. Kerala elephants have a major role in Kerala tourism. The Kerala elephants and Kerala tourism go hand in hand. Though elephant is a wild animal, we have been taming them since ancient times. This animal is closely related with our culture and tradition.
Physical features of the Kerala Elephants
The elephant is a largest animal on land. The male Elephant is larger than the female. Different species of Elephant are recognized. Each of them has its own special features and characteristics.
Legs and feet
Kerala Elephant is black in colour with four huge legs, strong and shaped like pillars. An elephant has strong straight legs and big rounded feet, it helps them to stand for a long time. Moreover On hind foot Kerala elephants have four nails each and front foot have five nails on each.
Kerala elephants have large ears, it has a vital role in the maintenance of body temperature. The ears of an elephant made of a thin layer of skin. Instead of bone cartilage support the ear, and it also has a good network of blood vessels.
While considering the whole size of the body, eyes are comparatively very small.
The most beautiful part of the elephant is its trunk. It is strong and the elephant used it for different purposes like to carry heavy logs, showering water & drinking water, plucking leaves for food and also have a major role in social interaction among them. Actually, the trunk is considered as a fusion of both nose and upper lip. Kerala elephant posses one fingerlike projections on the tip of their trunk.
The male elephants have two long tusks. So males are commonly called Tuskers. Interestingly, tusk shows continuous growth throughout their entire life. It used for various purposes like, dig for water, debark trees and so on. It is otherwise known as ivory. It is an invaluable one.
Elephants’ teeth differ from other mammals. The tusks of an elephant developed from its second upper incisors. One other special feature is that, the formation of tooth is like a cyclic process, it happens through out of their life.
The elephant is a thick skinned animal. So they named as pachyderms. Kerala elephant’s skin is normally covered with more hair. It also has a function of temperature regulation.
Elephants are vegetarians. They mainly eat leaves and supple branches of trees. Kerala elephants more like barks of trees, shrubs, fruits and so on.
Intelligence and memory power
Their intelligence and memory power almost similar to dolphins and primates. Kerala elephants can understand more than forty commands. Elephants mainly used for work which requires more physical efforts and they are an inevitable part of temple festival. Almost all Kerala temples have their own elephants. For instance, the famous Guruvayur temple has more than 60 elephants. Besides, the world’s only elephant’s palace is situated in punnattur kotta in Kerala. No temple festival is complete without an elephant adoring the procession. Moreover each and every local festival in Kerala should have at least one elephant. During an annual festival in Kerala temples the elephants are well decorated with gold plated caparisons, bells and necklaces. On that day, elephants are the main attraction. Elephant are normally live upto 50 to 70 years.
Devices for controlling elephants in Kerala
Three types of control devices are there for elephants. The names of the devices are thotti, valiya kol and cheru kol.
Two different species of elephants
Mainly two species of elephants existing today. They are African Elephant and Asian Elephant. These species include some subspecies also. African elephant’s sub species are African Forest elephant, West African elephant. Likewise Asian species comprises com- Borneo Pygmy elephant (Indian elephant) and Sri Lankan elephant.
How Kerala elephant differs from others
Mainly they show a difference in their weight and tusk, and also have some different features. Normally Asian elephant has around 5000 Kilogram weight, while African elephant weight ranged between 2200 to 7500 kilograms. African elephant tusk is longer and sharper than Kerala elephant. Besides Kerala elephant ear comparatively smaller than African elephant. It is triangular in Kerala elephant and rounded in African. Their back also shows some differences, Kerala elephant back is rounded an Africans have a concave back. Two projections are there on the Asian elephant’s forehead, but African has only one projection on the forehead.
Elephant ride in Kerala
Elephant ride offers an exciting experience to the tourist. Elephant ride helps us to reach those areas where we can’t reach by vehicles. If we use vehicles, it should disturb natural inhabitants in many ways. Instead of a vehicle if the tourist use elephant they can explore even middle of the forest in an Eco friendly way. In Kerala Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the famous hill station. It is one and only place in Kerala offer this kind of amazing experience to the tourist through elephant ride. It will be a varied experience. While riding an elephant a cushion will be placed up on the elephant. It provides comfort sitting to the tourist and one mahout accompany with the tourist. For the tourists, if they want to know more or if they want to get elephant ride ticket, they can obtain information from the Wildlife Information Centre (322028) in Thekkady or from tourist office in Kumily.
Cost for elephant ride in Periyar wildlife sanctuary
The cost varies according to the duration of the safari. Those who are interested in 30 minute safari, they should pay Rs. 1000.The elephant is a symbol of royalty and strength. Everybody like this biggest animal and its quite nature. So that tourist has a strong desire to do elephant ride once in their life. Now a days, Kerala tourism industry is taking it as in consideration and provide a unique experience to the tourist through elephant ride. It gives an unforgettable happy moment to the tourist. Day by day tourist flow to Kerala is steadily increasing because of this special attraction.