A large number of tourists keen to see the elephants Raghu and Ammu, who have become famous after the documentary short film, 'The Elephant Whisperers', won an Oscar at the 95th Academy Awards.
The film, helmed by Kartika Gonsalves, revolves around two Kattunaiyakan tribe members, Bomman and Bellie, who nurture and bring up the orphaned elephant calves. Bomman and Bellie even got married while the film was being shot.
Sukumaran Nair from Thiruvananthapuram is visiting the Theppakadu Elephant Camp for the first time. The camp is located deep inside the Mudumalai National Park in the Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu. It was set up in 1917 for timber loggers.
Nair, a retired Kerala water works department engineer, said during a conversation with IANS: "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."
Nair and his wife Indira Devi are both retired. When they 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.