Elephant Whisperers’ nomination elates caretaker couple at Mudumalai

“Our children Raghu and Ammu (both elephants) have made us proud. They have brought great honour to us and our entire tribal village,” says a visibly elated Bellie.
Bomman and Bellie with elephants Raghu and Ammu
Bomman and Bellie with elephants Raghu and Ammu

COIMBATORE: Indigenous couple, Bomman and Bellie from The Nilgiris are soaked in a newfound recognition and glory brought by the Oscar nomination to the documentary The Elephant Whisperers that features their passion for nursing baby elephants.

“Our children Raghu and Ammu (both elephants) have made us proud. They have brought great honour to us and our entire tribal village,” says a visibly elated Bellie.

Their heartwarming love for elephants would have rather gone unnoticed by the global public if not for Kartiki Gonsalve’s documentary, which shows the couple’s strong bonding with the two baby elephants abandoned by the herd.

Elephant Raghu was barely three months old when rescued with injuries from Denkanikottai in Krishnagiri, while Ammu alias Bommi was five months old when rescued from Sathyamangalam. They were brought to Theppakadu elephant camp in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) and grew up under the motherly care of the couple.

“Even during the documentary shoot, I just carried on with my routine care for an injured Raghu; applying medicine, feeding him milk and giving him a hot water bath. It loved my caressing and took milk only if given by me and none else. He used to sleep beside me and sometimes with his head on my lap,” recalls Bellie.

Even as both the elephants have grown into adults, the couple is excited that their love never faded a bit. “They are now in the care of mahouts. Still, they follow us like a child tailing a mother, if they see us,” said Bomman.

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