Clad in a shirt and skirt, Jayashree Iyer is a lady mahout hailing from Kalpathy, who owns an elephant, Kesavan Babu. Ever since childhood, elephants have been a part of her family and now it’s a part of her life too.

Her first elephant, also known as Kesavan, was gifted to her as a child by her father,
which lead her to the amazing journey of understanding elephants.

Her grandfather was Narayana Iyer and her father Appu, was commonly known as “Aana (elephant) Iyer” as they had 5 elephants at one time. Elephant tales in her family can be traced back from her grandfather’s times. Her father used to take elephants to Chennai for film shooting purposes.

The legacy still continues in Chathapuram Agraharam, by Jayashree and her sister, Lakshmi, who team up as mahouts when needed. Kesavan was bought from Assam 14 years ago, and is not sent for hauling logs and is also given the necessary rest especially during heat.

Jayshree feeds him twice a day, at 11 am and in the evenings. The lady mahout ensures that her Kesavan is not abused or overworked during festivals. She visits the temples in which her elephant is paraded. She is known for single-handedly managing the elephant during tough times.

The elephant is not engaged in doing any other work for commercial purposes.

“Elephants are lovable, intelligent animals. They do not hurt anyone and become violent only when they are provoked or when they are under ‘under ‘musth’ [heat],” she says.
Further, she also says that Kesavan is generally of a calm and quiet nature.

Jayashree ends her day by visiting the tusker every night at 10 pm and wishing him goodnight.



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