Tamed Tuskers

Senthil Kumaran


3 - 17 December 2019
Venue: Siem Reap Riverside

A rapid growth in India’s development and the human population has slashed the forest vegetation at a devastating rate, with over 150,000 hectares lost in the last 10 years, resulting in significant destruction of wildlife habitat. This ecological imbalance between living space for humans and wildlife has led to conflict across the country.

These wild elephants, who each killed several people and are captured from this zone, have now been tamed and trained by Kurumba people. For over 400 years, the Kurumba people have had a close association with the Asiatic elephant. Primarily inhabiting the Western Ghats of Southern India, their knowledge and expertise in working with elephants has been passed on through generations.

The tamed Tuskers, or Kumkis, are in turn used to tame and train newly captured elephants from the wild. Kumkis are also very effective in leading wild elephants that have strayed into human habitation back into the wild. The Kumkis are a part of the Kurumba family, where men and beasts work together for over 12 hours a day. Through their work, the Kurumbas have ensured a reduction in human-elephant conflict situations and poaching.



Senthil Kumaran is an independent visual storyteller from South India. He holds an engineering degree in IT, but an immense interest in visual arts from his childhood led him to pursue a full-time career in photography. His work focuses on social, environmental issues with a personal approach. Over the past 5 years, his work has turned into Environmental & Wildlife issues. Now he is working on various Tiger reserves in India, to documenting his longtime project of Human & Animal Conflict. He is also making documentary films on conservation.

He has won several awards from international organizations like POYi, Istanbul Photo Awards, National Geographic, WWF, Pano, Nature Image Awards, UNESCO, World Report Award etc,.

In 2007, he won the “Geographical Photographer of the Year Award” from Royal Geographic Society, London. He also received the “Hope Françoise Demulder Grant” from Angkor Photography Festival, Cambodia, 2014.

In 2019, he was selected for the World Press Photo Talent Program 6×6 Asia Region.