THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: AI Poulose, a temporary watcher with the Malayattoor Forest Division, won the first Thadikannan Award instituted in memory of Thadikannan, former watcher with the Periyar Tiger Reserve.
Jointly instituted by the Periyar Foundation and Friends of Thadikannan, the award carries a purse of Rs 50,000.
Poulose, watcher for the past 40 years, has been in charge of guarding the Kappayam teak, the world's largest teak tree, at Kappayam under the Edamalayar Forest Range. He goes home only once or twice a month and travels 24 km on a bamboo craft to reach the camp shed.
In 2014, when a she-elephant got injured near Edamalayar reservoir, Poulose took care of her. Despite his dedicated care, the tusker died. The award is in recognition of his dedication to work.