Foot trimming with the privately owned elephants started yesterday. Once again Kiran, a veterinary technician working with NTNC and the government in Chitwan National Park, came through, setting up the foot trimming schedule and arranging for the elephants to be at the stable.
Sona Kali laid down to expose feet in dire need of trimming. Her back pads were okay but the nails on all four feet were severely overgrown, decayed and split. The pads of her front feet had deep black tracks of bacteria.
The first difficulty we experienced was the mahout’s failure to respond to Kiran’s direction. At first I thought he was ignoring Kiran and then it seemed he did not understand what Kiran was saying. Araw means stop and, even if you don’t speak Nepalese, a mahout would know that word because they use it with their elephants continually. But when Kiran said “araw,” the mahout kept cutting. Without hesitation, Kiran took the knife and continued the trimming himself. The mahout training was a bit slow at first but when he finally started following Kiran’s directions, it seemed that he could end up being a good foot trimmer.
Kiran’s and my partnership is well established. He starts with the big cutting, shaving down the overgrown nails, and I follow up with digging out the rotten areas, taking off more of the overgrown nail and shaping everything into place. It is a pleasure to work with him, not only because he does a good job but because he takes pride in doing a good job. When I am deep in concentration focused on a problem area Kiran will say, “Carol, please,” which I have come to understand means “move out of the way with that sissy knife and let me cut away more of that excess nail.” I am happy to oblige him because I can save my energy for sculpting.
I must admit that Sona Kali’s feet had me sweating — they were definitely the most overgrown so far. We were able to trim her nails into shape but the thick tracks of bacteria were so deep between the toes of her front feet, it will take several follow-up visits over the next many weeks to bring her feet back to health.
With all that Kiran has done to make this Nepal Mobile Pedicure Parlor a success, I want to raise some funds to show appreciation. There are forty private owned elephant here in Sauraha so we have our work cut out for us, but the effort is worth it: the elephants will have healthier feet and the mahouts will acquire additional skills. The truth is that I could not have provided this service without Kiran’s assistance.