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January 22, 2010

Finnish tourist turns mahout to tame elephant in Kerala

     Thekkady (Kerala): A leisure trip to Kerala turned into a unique experiencing for a young lady from Finland who took a fancy to Asian elephants while visiting the Periyar wildlife Sanctuary near Thekkady. Lara saw the giant animal for the first time at the elephant junction in the sanctuary and immediately fell in love with it, prompting her to stay on at Kumily to train as a mahout. She managed to hire a local mahout as an instructor and got an elephant for the required training. So far, Lara has picked up over 32 commands in Malayalam to control the elephants, which are used by the mahouts. Normally, a mahout in South Indian has to learn over 56 commands. "I don't find the difficulty in handling the elephant, but the difficulty lies in understanding the local language, which I am trying to learn. I think that is the biggest issue at the moment," Lara confessed. On completing her training, Lara plans to come back to Kerala and work as a mahout.
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