Tourists flock to Theppakadu after Oscar for ‘The Elephant Whisperers’ (Ld)

Tourists are flocking to the Theppakadu Elephant Camp in Tamil Nadu to catch a glimpse of Raghu and Ammu, two elephants who have gained fame after the documentary short film "The Elephant Whisperers" won an Oscar at the 95th Academy Awards. The film tells the story of two Kattunaiyakan tribe members, Bomman and Bellie, who raise orphaned elephant calves. The couple even got married while the film was being shot.

Sukumaran Nair, a retired Kerala water works department engineer, and his wife Indira Devi, are among the many tourists who have come to see the elephants. Nair said he had left Thiruvananthapuram in a cab to reach Theppakadu after hearing about the Oscar for the film. He hoped to chat with both Bomman and Bellie, though Bomman was away in Salem to bring back an injured elephant.

Umesh Singh, another tourist from Delhi, said he was travelling across the South and came to Theppakadu after hearing about the Oscar for the film. A few foreign tourists have also come to the camp to meet the elephants and their mahouts.

The Theppakadu Elephant Camp was set up in 1917 for timber loggers and now houses 28 elephants that were captured while they were wild tuskers creating problems for local villagers. These elephants are trained to become "kumki" elephants that help in the capture of wild elephants.