Huge honour for 'The Elephant Whisperers': MK Stalin felicitates mahouts Bomman and Belli!

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin has on Wednesday - March 15 felicitated mahouts Bomman and Belli, who were featured in the documentary 'The Elephant Whisperers' that recently won the Oscar award at the 95th Academy Awards. The Chief Minister has conferred a citation to the couple and has also offered them a financial support. 

Bomman and Belli met MK Stalin at the Chief Secretariat in Chennai and the couple had a warm welcome from the Chief Minister. Besides conferring them with a citation, MK Stalin has also handed over a cheque of Rs 1 lakh each. Moreover, Stalin has also showered a sign of relief on all the mahouts attached to the Theppakkadu and Kozhikamuthi elephant camps in the state by offering them financial assistance. 

The official statement from the government said that the Chief Minister ordered that Rs 1 lakh must be given to each of the 91 mahouts and cavadis (helpers) at the Theppakkadu and Kozhikamuthi elephant camps. MK Stalin has further announced that Rs 9.10 crore would be allocated to build houses for the mahouts and cavadis in both camps. The funds for these announcements would be distributed from the Chief Minister's Public Relief Fund. 

The closely-watched event had a participation of Tamil Nadu Forest Minister M Mathiventhan, Chief Secretary Irai Anbu, and Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Environment, Supriya Sahu. The Elephant Whisperers has become the first Indian documentary to win an Oscar and the award was accepted by the documentary's director Kartiki Gonsalves and producer Guneet Monga. 

The documentary, which runs for 39 minutes and exhibits the bond between tribal people and elephants in The Nilgiris, is the directorial debut for Gonsalves. After learning that the mahouts Bomman and Belli, who featured in the documentary, were honoured by the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Kartiki Gonsalves said she is overjoyed and proud. 

Taking to Twitter, she wrote, "Overjoyed and so proud to see Bomman & Belli honoured by our honourable Chief Minister MK Stalin after 'The Elephant Whisperers' won the first academy award for India for an independent film at the 95th Academy Awards." The Theppakkadu elephant camp is in the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve and the mahouts working here are from the Kattunayakkar and Kurumbar tribal communities. 

The documentary shows the bonding between Bomman and Belli and two orphaned elephant calves Raghu and Ammu. The elephant camp has recently been thronged by tourists who arrive to see the baby jumbo that featured in the Oscar-winning documentary.