Tamil Nadu will send 13 mahouts (elephant trainers) and cavadis (assistants) from elephant camps in the State to the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre for training and capacity building. .

Mahouts and cavadis are the backbone of captive elephant care. Most of them are from tribal communities and often dedicate their entire life to take care of elephants. It’s time to recognise their service and build their capacities. Tamil Nadu is sending 13 of them to Thailand for training in Phase I, says an order issued by the State Environment department.

Out of the total 63 captive elephants, 28 are in Mudumalai Elephant Camp in Nilgiris district; 26 in Anamalai Elephant Camp in Coimbatore district; 2 in Arignar Anna Zoological Park, Vandalur, Chennai and 7 at Elephant Rescue & Rehabilitation Centre, MR Palayam at Tiruchirappalli.

At present, mahouts are drawn mostly from local tribal communities like Malasar and Irulas. The maintenance of camps and training of elephants is done as per the traditional knowledge of tribes.

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Govt-owned Thai Elephant Conservation Centre (TECC) in Lampang is known for its scientific approach towards managing elephants.

It was established in 1993 and currently cares for more than 50 Asian elephants.

TECC acts as a centre for research and is at the forefront in treating sick elephants in Thailand.

Tamil Nadu mahouts and cavadies will be trained at the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre. Through this exposure, the care for camp elephants in Tamil Nadu can be improved, the order said.

The training will involve an expenditure of ₹50 lakh.

The expenditure would be met from Anamalai and Mudumalai Tiger Reserve Foundation Funds, the order said.