Kheddah Album 1909, Lord Minto, The Viceroy Of India

Khedda or kheddah, means a “ditch” which was a stockade trap for the capture of elephants by the joint strategic efforts of skilled mahouts and domesticated elephants called, kumkis. This practice brought about the capture of wild elephants to be trained and domesticated for use in the armies and other chores, including capturing wild elephants in the future (as kumkis). This operation was also used to control the population of wild elephants, to have a check on their numbers. It brought in revenue in the form of tourism, as people from far and wide came to witness this glorious act of sheer courage and might. In 1909, khedda was organised to coincide with the visit of Lord Minto, the then Viceroy of India. Three drives were conducted, in which 92 elephants were captured. Of these, 13 died, one escaped, three were presented to Muths and temples.


14 were reserved for departmental and palatial purposes. The remaining 61 were sold for Rs.1,08,255. The total expenditure was Rs.81,155, and the net profit Rs.27,100. Statistics available in the Government records provide the following information: 1,191 elephants were captured in khedda operations from 1890 to 1940, and about 60 percent of them sold. Between 1948 and 1971 – that’s right, khedda flourished flourished (though on a smaller scale) even post-independence – 298 elephants were captured. In the khedda operation held in January 1971, 74 elephants were captured.


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