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Bidding Goodbye to City Life & Well-Paid Jobs, This Couple Now Takes Care of 3 Retired Elephants

The couple’s journey took them from teaching at Dudhwa National Park in Uttar Pradesh to rehabilitating elephants in Tamil Nadu.

A life away from mad rush hours and the materialistic entrapment that comes along as baggage in cities!

And add to that, three elephants!

This is precisely how life is currently defined for Shweta Govind and Govind Gorur, who previously lived in Bengaluru and fell under the regular 9-5 working strata.

Govind and Shweta.

“Between the both of us, we earned a little over a lakh per month and it should have been enough to live conveniently. But we were people who weren’t driven by ambitions and didn’t want to be adhered to the fast-paced madness,” Govind says.

Following an impulse, first Govind and then Shweta quit their jobs one fine day and left for good.

The journey took them from Dudhwa National Park in Uttar Pradesh to Marakkanam, a tiny village located somewhere on the East Coast Road in Tamil Nadu, and their lives, led by the pursuit of happiness, found tranquility somewhere along the way.

Wondering where the pachyderms fit amidst all of this?


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“Never in our dreams did we think of taking care of elephants or anything close to it would be in the cards. Closely after leaving our jobs, we had gotten married. At one point, we were educating villagers and children about the importance of forest conservation near the national park,” Govind remembers.

Running short on savings and the need to not remain chained to routine, Govind ended up landing a job with IndiaHikes. However, Shweta’s concern remained that whatever job they planned on undertaking should have some impact.

So that took Govind to the hills of Uttarakhand, as part of the ‘Green Trails’ initiative that inculcated the practice of responsible trekking, leaving no waste behind.

Being close to nature, he ended up meeting like-minded people who encouraged him to take up conservation initiatives like that of Olive Ridley sea turtles.

“This was much closer to home, but the campaigns were seasonal, adhering to the nesting period of the turtles. However, we were told about the elephant rehabilitation project that needed people to run a facility and without a second thought, we took the plunge,” Govind says.

Enter Sandhya, Indu and Jayanthi.

Sandhya, Indu and Jayanthi having a sand blast at Marakkanam. Source: EleFriends 101.

Post rehabilitation, the couple, along with a team of mahouts, veterinary assistants and supervisors has been taking care of three retired elephants for the past one year.

The 14-acre stretch in Marakkanam is not just a facility, but a refuge that offers a stress-free natural habitat for the elephants.

“Unlike cows, dogs, cats, horses, sheep and goats, elephants have never been domesticated and are not meant to be. Unfortunately, we all know that this has not been the case,” he says.


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The facility, also known as EleFriends 101, is also an educational and biodiversity centre where students and the general public have the opportunity to observe and interact with the elephants.

“From quitting our jobs to running the facility, the support from our parents remains the sole constant. Had it not been for their undying faith in us, probably our journey might not have been what it is today,” Govind adds.

From living in captivity to being constantly under fear, Sandhya, Indu and Jayanthi are finally getting a new lease of life, thanks to the duo.

To get in touch with Govind and Shweta, you can email them at shweta.hunagund@gmail.com or call 9901341400/9916170094.

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Written by Lekshmi Priya S

Shuttling between existentialist views and Grey's Anatomy, Lekshmi has an insanely disturbing habit of binge reading. An ardent lover of animals and plants, she also specializes in cracking terribly sad jokes.