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13 forest dept.  staff from Tamil Nadu complete training at Thai Elephant Conservation Centre

13 mahouts and cavadis from Tamil Nadu received training in Thai Elephant Conservation Centre

Keeping in mind the well-being of elephants, a total of 13 mahouts (trainers) and cavadis or assistants to mahouts from Tamil Nadu were sent to Thai Elephant Conservation Centre in Lampang for training in the scientific management of these animals in captivity.

Those sent for training were chosen from elephant camps at Theppakadu in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve and Kozhikamuthi in Anamalai Tiger Reserve. On their return the 13 men were felicitated at a function held in Vandalur’s Arignar Anna Zoological Park on Monday.

Highlighting the importance of this training, a release from Tamil Nadu Forest Department said: “Scientific management of captive elephants is an extremely important intervention for elephant conservation. Tamil Nadu is a pioneer state in the rehabilitation and maintenance of captive elephants. Mahouts and cavadis are the backbone of captive elephant care.”

A majority of mahouts and cavadis hail from traditional elephant-taming communities like Irulas, Malasar, and other tribal communities. The animals in the camps are looked after by them as per the traditional knowledge of tribes.

Over a period of time, the training and maintenance concept of elephants has evolved with animal welfare and scientific practices included in it. Giving an example, Supriya Sahu, Additional Chief Secretary for Environment, Climate, and Forests in Tamil Nadu said: “For instance, simple things like picking early signs of an illness, scientific way of checking foot nails, teeth etc can go a long way in the overall well-being of the animal.”

The Centre in Lampang is a well-known elephant camp and at present it has more than 50 Asian elephants housed there and is globally known to be at the forefront of treating sick elephants in Thailand.