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Tamil Nadu Govt honours ‘Elephant Whisperers’ couple, gives cash reward and houses to 91 caretakers

M..K, Stalin, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister honoured the elephant caregivers Bomman and Bellie (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@CMOTamilnadu)

The couple Bomman and Bellie, who hit fame as the documentary “The Elephant Whisperers’ in which they featured won an Oscar, were felicitated by M.K. Stalin, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, in Chennai. The film also put the spotlight on Tamil Nadu Forest Department’s activities concerning elephant care and management.

The CM presented Bomman and Bellie a cheque of Rs.1 lakh each and honoured them with a shield and a shawl.

On the occasion, the CM made an announcement to grant Rs.1 lakh each to all 91 mahouts and cavadis. He also said that a financial assistance of Rs.9.1 crore will be provided to all these caretakers for constructing eco-friendly houses.

All the 91 elephant caretakers in the State are working in two elephant camps located at Theppakadu in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve and at Kozhikamuthi elephant camp in Anamalai Tiger Reserve.

The beaming couple expressing their happiness of being part of the Oscar winning film in all modesty said: “We just did our job.”

Bomman added, “The forest department gave us the calf and we fostered him like our child. Everyone is appreciating us, but frankly we never expected any of this attention.” Raghu was given to the couple after he was abandoned by the herd following his mother’s electrocution. He was grievously injured and it took several months of personal care and hand feeding to improve his health.

While Bomman is a permanent employee of the department, Bellie will also be regularised soon.

Meanwhile, the State Government has also allocated Rs. 5 crore to improve the Kozhikamuthi elephant camp while deciding to set up a new camp at Sadivyal in Coimbatore with all the requisite facilities for taking care of these animals.

Last year, the CM had said that the State will establish a state-of-the-art elephant conservation centre and eco-complex at Theppakkad camp and a detailed project report for this has been prepared for consideration.