Konni, a forested village in the State of Kerala in South India, situated on the bank of the mighty Achencoil River has a long and rich history of man-forest interface. Vast expanse of forests belonging to Western Ghats in the background is crisscrossed by numerous streams and rivulets, which add to the exceptional scenic beauty of the landscape. .Konni Ecotourism Project and the area development Master plan revolved around a major elephant training center covering an area of 217 Sq.Km with a soft trekking path and a hard trekking path comprising Konni and Achankovil areas. Elephants always had a glorious position in Indian culture. From being an inevitable presence for auspicious occasions to the privilege of carrying deities elephant’s status remained peerless for centuries. The trainers here train the baby elephants which get separated from their herd, or are found wounded or roaming in the forest. Experienced trainers using their systematic training methods, to tame the baby elephants. Indian Elephants are threatened by poaching for their tusks, the loss of habitat due to human pressure on forested areas and due to human conflict. The isolated populations of wild elephants in individual wildlife sanctuaries are also threatened by loss of genetic diversity.

Konni Ecotourism and area development assumes prominence at these grounds and foresaw the improvement of human community by proclaiming the necessity to care and save wildlife. The Master plan contained the renovation of traditional ‘Aanakkottil”, awareness programme for visitors showcasing the neglected nature of wild life and the practices of its preservation and finally employment generation for local people. Architectural intervention was made minimal and employed local, ecofriendly materials with minimum disturbance to existing site contours. The scheme by and large featured the age old techniques of mahouts to train and tame elephants. A visitor is lead to different phases of elephant training and through out the journey architecture supplements a back drop with very little built up. Meshed wooden cages to rest elephants called “Aanakkoodu” and subtly enclosed plazas for exhibiting elephants can be experienced as an extension to the winding pathways leading uphill and an optional safari on the tusker’s back. The elephant museum by its own merit presents a rare study about the species. Amenity section with plants for generating biogas and paper from elephant dung marks the energy efficiency of the whole campus. Aanakkottil, the first phase of Area development with landscape presenting buildings of different functionalities as an inseparable whole is on its track to keep the village Konni in a process of sustainable development

Duration: 2004-06

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