The Department of Forests and Wildlife had organised the programme to mark the valedictory of Wildlife Week.
The event took place at the ground adjacent to Sakrebailu camp on the backwaters of the Tunga reservoir. Richly-caparisoned elephants entered the venue in a grand procession.
Twenty-three-year-old Sagar, who carried the wooden mantap in the Jamboo Savari of this year’s Shimoga Dasara, led the procession. He was followed by 80-year-old Indira., the senior elephant of the camp.
Running races, sugarcane and banana eating competitions and a football match and basketball eventswas held. Amrutha and Ale displayed camaraderie by strolling with their trunks interlocked.
The elephants displayed several tasks like sitting, running, raising their forelegs, splashing water, on the commands issued by their mahouts. They trumpeted in response to the applause from the audience.
K.B. Prasanna Kumar, Shimoga MLA, who inaugurated the event, said the tourist potential of Sakrebailu camp should be tapped. “The elephant camps in Thailand have emerged as tourist destinations. The Department of Tourism should follow a similar model here. Gajanur reservoir and the Mandagadde bird sanctuary are also located in the vicinity,” he said.
Eighth grader Niranjan C. had been to Sakrebailu camp with his father in the morning. “I watched the mahouts giving the elephants a bath and decorating them with colours. The mahouts share an intimate bond with the elephants,” he said.
Srushti R., a student, of Ramakrishna High School in Shimoga, said Elephants’ Day made her Dasara holidays memorable. “The event was held in a picturesque locale, with Shettyhalli sanctuary on the one side and the backwater of Tunga reservoir on the other. By undertaking proper campaigning, it is possible to attract more people to the event,” she said.