Swiss national makes India a home away from home for his elephant love

Saturday, October 2, 2010

JAIPUR - A Swiss national, who arrived in India for the first time two years ago as a tourist, fell in love with elephants. Today, he has not only stayed back in Rajasthan but also trained himself as a Mahout.

Fabio Preti, 37, is certainly not an ordinary foreign tourist, as he decided to make this country his home for the sake of love for elephants.

He tells that it was a sense of affection and care for the Asian Elephants which motivated him to train himself as a mahout in Amer village near Jaipur.

Today, he can efficiently command his elephant in Hindi. He has been trained by local elephant handlers to take complete care of the animal.

Preti spoke of his passion for elephants and the motivation behind switching to this unconventional profession.

“When I was a baby, I used dream of elephants and elephant driving, and when I came to Jaipur, I met my friend Shafiq Khan, and he trained me for elephant driving. You dream as kids, you know, and I am very happy with my job,” said Preti.

Preti’s dedication is such that other than riding the elephant, he also takes care of the animals’ diet and hygiene, which earned him his employer’s admiration.

The Swiss national, who is on a working visa in the country, says that his experience in riding horses in the Swiss Army has helped him in understanding the elephant and training as a handler.

He tells that in Switzerland he used to work in Army and earn a decent salary. It was way above the money he gets as a mahout. But Preti says that he is content.

“For any ordinary person, first you should not be looking afraid. If you are afraid, you can make nothing. But me, I am not afraid of animals. For me, it was very easy. In Switzerland, I was a horse driver in the Swiss Army. For twenty five years, I was training horses. Elephants are easier than horses,” said Preti.

Local residents and tourists visiting the city are amused to see Preti due to his foreign descent and his expertise in handling the giant animal. By Lokender Singh (ANI)

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