Sulochana and Ayyub: The lovely bond between a jumbo and her mahout

In The Slow App, watch the unique bond shared between elephant Sulochana and her mahout Ayyub Khan at Dudhwa National Park in Uttar Pradesh.

Subha J Rao
| Updated: June 17th, 2021

Sulochana and her mahout Ayyub Khan at Dudhwa National Park, Uttar Pradesh. All photos: Gaon Connection

In the first week of June, social media watched teary-eyed as Pallattu Brahmadathan, a tusker in Kerala, paid tribute to the mortal remains of his mahout Damodaran Nair. Many shared videos and images of the bond the two of them shared. 

A good bond between a tusker and mahout is very special and rooted in trust developed over years. Here’s the story of one such bond between Sulochana and her mahout Ayyub Khan at Dudhwa National Park, Uttar Pradesh.

Sulochana came to Dudhwa in 2008 along with four other elephants from West Bengal. “Everyone was allotted an elephant. I got Sulochana,” says Khan, patting down the elephant who is like family to him.

“She’s innocent, she’s family,” says Khan.

Their bond comes across beautifully in The Slow App’s Foresters partner channel. The Slow App is the brainchild of writer-lyricist-storyteller Neelesh Misra.

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Khan’s routine revolves around Sulochana. “From the time I wake up, I am around her. In the morning, I check her gobar (dung) to see if it’s okay. I walk around her to check if all is well. I see if she’s eaten her grass for the night or not. If I feel something is not right, I inform the authorities and the veterinarian then visits and begins treatment,” says Khan.

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If Sulochana is fine, Khan and she head out for some rhinoceros monitoring amid the reeds and grass and waterholes. “In a day, she eats about one-and-a-half quintals of feed, and also forages for grass in the forest. I also bring in some fodder for her and leave some for her to eat at night. She eats at night and sleeps for an hour or two,” says Khan.

Sulochana and Khan during rhinoceros monitoring.

In the morning, Sulochana is scrubbed down with water, and is fed a mixture of atta (wheat), gur (jaggery), namak (salt), tel (oil) and chana (Bengal grams) before she and Khan head out again. This is also the time when Sulochana lets Khan know how much she cares for him. It’s their ‘us’ time. “She’s innocent, she’s family,” says Khan.

This short film has cinematography by Yash Sachdev and Mohammad Salman, editing by P Madhu Kumar and graphics by Kartikeya Upadhyay.

Also Read: Arni, who sniffs out smuggled tusks and the hide of big cats

Download The Slow App here.

Watch Sulochana’s story here.