After the Kartiki Gonsalves directorial ‘The Elephant Whisperers’ bagged the Oscar award in the Best Documentary Short category, the spotlight in India has now turned to the humble elephant caretaker couple, who are shown in the film tenderly taking care of two orphaned baby elephants like they were their own children.
On Wednesday (March 15), Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin met the elephant caretaker couple Bomman and Bellie, who work inside the Mudumalai tiger reserve and felicitated them. He announced an award of ₹1 lakh to each of them. The TN CM also gave ₹1 lakh each to all the 91 workers employed at two elephant camps in the state, as a gesture of appreciation.
Moreover, as the film has thrown light on the working conditions of these mahouts, the TN government has allotted ₹9.1 crore to build eco-friendly homes for the mahouts of the camps. Stalin announced that a new camp will be set up in Coimbatore chavadi as well, at a cost of ₹8 crore. “The film has drawn the world’s attention to Tamil Nadu forest department’s care for elephants,” Stalin said.
Chennai | Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin felicitates elephant caretaker couple Bomman & Bellie following the #Oscars win for the documentary ‘The Elephant Whisperes’.
The documentary is based on the life and work of Bomman and Bellie who foster elephant calves, Ammu and Raghu. pic.twitter.com/OneA8Z5Y4i
— ANI (@ANI) March 15, 2023
Also read: Elephants are like our children, says Belli of Oscar-winner ‘The Elephant Whisperers’
‘The Elephant Whisperers’, which is the first Indian film to win in this category at the Academy Awards, centres around this elephant caretaker couple who are entrusted with the care of Raghu, a baby elephant, who was badly injured after its mother died by electrocution. There are many moments in the film as the couple tend to Raghu and nurse him back to health, which brings a lump to one’s throat.
On receiving the award, Bellie had told PTI, “I have reared many such elephants, treated them like my own children, looking after them as a foster mother, particularly those who lose their mothers in the jungle.”
She further said, “This was in our blood, as our ancestors were also working like that, as described by our grandmother, who comes from a mahout family”. On the documentary winning an Oscar, Belli quipped, “I do not know about the award. But I am very happy and excited as congratulations are pouring in.”