T.N. mahouts and cavadies to train at Thailand’s elephant conservation centre

A total of 13 mahouts/cavadies are going for the training; the aim of the initiative is to help them adopt scientific management practices for the better care of elephants at camps in T.N.

Updated - November 22, 2022 07:59 am IST

Published - November 21, 2022 04:58 pm IST - CHENNAI

The Kozhikamuthy elephant camp is one of the oldest in the country. File photo

The Kozhikamuthy elephant camp is one of the oldest in the country. File photo | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Thirteen mahouts/cavadies from Anamalai and Mudumalai Tiger Reserves will be going for training and capacity building at the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre in Thailand to learn to manage camps and look after elephants in Tamil Nadu better.

The entire training will involve an expenditure of ₹50 lakh, and tiger foundation funds will be used for the purpose, according to an order by Supriya Sahu, additional chief secretary, Environment, Climate Change and Forests Department.

Tamil Nadu is already a pioneer in rehabilitation and maintenance of captive elephants. The camps at Theppakadu in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve and Kozhikamuthy at the Anamalai Tiger Reserve are some of the oldest elephant camps in the country. There are a total of 63 elephants cared for by 37 mahouts and 28 cavadies at these camps.

At present, the elephants in the camps are being managed, and are well cared for by the regular and temporary staff of the Department, who are drawn mostly from the local tribal communities. Most mahouts and cavadies belong to traditional elephant taming communities like Malasars, Irulas and others. Currently, the maintenance of camps and training of elephents is based on the traditional knowledge of the tribes. The younger mahouts get trained by experienced, retired mahouts. They, however, have never been exposed to other elephant camps or training centres adopting best practices with modern scientific approaches, the government order said.

Scientific management of captive elephants is an extremely important intervention for elephant conservation, Ms. Sahu said. The Thai Elephant Conservation Centre in Lampang is a well-known camp known for its scientific approach of managing elephants. Established in 1993, it currently cares for more than 50 Asian elephants. It is a centre for research and at the forefront for treating sick elephants in that country. It offers mahout training and homestay, the order said.

The exposure in Thailand could help Tamil Nadu mahouts and cavadies to care better for camp elephants. Six mahouts/cavadies from Anamalai and seven from Mudumalai tiger reserves will be travelling to Thailand along with a forest ranger and a livestock inspector will be accompanying them.

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