Malasar tribesmen of the Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR), Tamil Nadu, received the first ‘Gaj Gaurav Award’ instituted by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) on Friday.
Five elephant men from the community received the award from MoEFCC Minister Bhupender Yadav in the presence of Minister of State for MoEFCC Ashwini Kumar Choubey and other officials during the World Elephant Day celebrations held at the Periyar Tiger Reserve in Kerala.
The citation said that mahouts and cavadis of the Kozhikamuthi and Varagaliar elephant camps of the ATR were chosen for the Gaj Gaurav 2022 award for their outstanding contribution in the field of elephant conservation.
The award recognises good practices adopted by captive elephant owners and outstanding works done by field officers, frontline staff and private custodians in elephant conservation.
Mahouts Mani, Palanisamy, Kumar and cavadis Prasath and Kannan received the award on behalf of the Malasar community in the presence of ATR Field Director S. Ramasubramanian, Top Slip forest range officer A. Kasilingam and camp forester K.P. Sabareesan.
There are around 120 Malasar families living in and around Kozhikamuthy settlement in ATR and men from the community take up the job of capturing, taming and taking care of elephants for the Forest Department. Kozhikamuthy and Varagaliar camps together have 26 camp elephants including kumkis (trained male elephants for special operations).