Tourists flock to Theppakadu after 'The Elephant Whisperers' wins Oscar

Theppakadu Elephant now houses 28 elephants who were captured while they were wild tuskers creating problems for local villagers
A scene from The Elephant Whisperers
A scene from The Elephant Whisperers

This 95th Academy Award-winning short Tamil documentary film, The Elephant Whisperers, follows Bomman and Bellie, a South Indian couple in South India who have devoted their lives to rasining an orphaned baby elephant named Raghu. The film showcases the family breaking the barrier between the human and the animal world and a unique relationship. The film, helmed by Kartika Gonsalves, revolves around these two Kattunaiyakan tribe members who tied the knot while the film was being shot. 

Now that the film bagged an Oscar, a large number of tourists are flocking to see the elephants Raghu and Ammu and following suit, Sukumaran Nair from Thiruvananthapuram is visits the Theppakadu Elephant Camp for the first time. The camp is located deep inside the Mudumalai National Park in the Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu, which was set up in 1917 for timber loggers. Nair, a retired Kerala water works department engineer, in a recent interaction said, "This is the first time I am paying a visit to the camp. The only idea is to meet the elephants Reghu and Ammu and if possible have a chat with Bomman and Bellie."

When Nair and his wife Indira Devi learnt about film getting an Oscar, they left Thiruvananthapuram in a cab to reach Theppakadu by the evening on Monday. They now hope to have a chat with both Bomman and Bellie, though Bomman is away in Salem to bring back an injured elephant. The retired engineer said he would stay back at Theppakadu for a couple of days more and try to understand the bonding between the elephants and their mahouts.

Umesh Singh is another tourist who reached Theppakadu in the morning on Tuesday. He told IANS that he was from Delhi and was travelling across the South over the past two weeks. After hearing the news about the Oscar for 'The Elephant Whisperers', he left for Theppakadu to have a glimpse of the elephants Raghu and Ammu.

The camp officials said a few foreign tourists were also there because they wanted to meet the elephants as well as their mahouts. Theppakadu Elephant now houses 28 elephants who were captured while they were wild tuskers creating problems for local villagers. These jumbos are tamed at this camp and trained to become 'kumki' elephants meant to help in the capture of wild elephants.

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