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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Swimming elephants and rescue at Jaipur ........... !!

Elephants are large mammals of the family Elephantidae - Elephantidae are the only surviving family of the order Proboscidea; other, now extinct, families of the order include mammoths and mastodons.  Traditionally, two species are recognised, the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) and the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) …. From young age I have been fascinated by these huge pachyderms (had posted in detail on Temple elephants specific reference to Azhwar, the one that lived at Triplicane)

By some accounts, elephants are capable swimmers – still not many can be seen swimming and this one at Andaman is reportedly one of the last breed of ocean swimmers.  The video circulating on the web it that of 65-year old Rajan, the world's last ocean swimming elephant who lives on a beautiful archipelago in the Bay of Bengal.  Rajan, who weighs around four tons, once worked hard carrying lumber between islands but is now retired—although he still takes the occasional swim for fun.

It takes ten years to train a working, swimming elephant and it is no longer considered economically viable with the availability of modern transportation. However elephants are still valued workers and this was reflected in the $40,000 price that Rajan's keepers paid for him. This swimming elephant is a well known celebrity having featured in the Hollywood movie 'The Fall'. Like most elephants, Rajan loves the water and enjoys his swims. Every year many professional underwater photographers and magazine journalists make the journey to the Emerald Isles just to meet and have the opportunity to interact and photograph this amazing swimming elephant.

They say that the moment is truly an experience, to see the  large Asian male elephant  move so elegantly and almost effortlessly in the water. Web reports suggest that the three-ton bull elephant has almost reached the £37,000 target his owners need to pay back the loan they took out to buy his freedom.  There is a fee to witness Rajan swimming because his owners at Barefoot India literally rescued him from being sent back to the Indian mainland to work in 2008 by taking out a loan to buy him.

………… this report in Daily Mail (13.8.13) speaks of a big elephant being saved from drowning in a lake.   The mammoth was cooling off in the water in the shadows of Jaipur's iconic Amer Fort in India when it started to struggle in a deep patch. The elephant, named Anarkali, was only coaxed out of the lake when her owner jumped on her back.

Anarkali, who gives rides to tourists, was bathing at the lake shore before wandering further into the water.  Tourists could only look on as she began to struggle in a pocket of deep water; she was too afraid to move and remained trapped out of her depth.  Its owner is quoted as stating that the elephants love cooling off in the water, but after an elephant entered the lake with a tourist on its back last year the administration banned elephants from doing so. The mahout took Anarkali to bath in the shoreline the elephant wandered off into the lake.  She only moved back to shore when its mahout  leaped from the motor boat onto the elephant's back…. With the help of fellow boaters, he was able to gently coax the confused elephant back to shore, where a crowd of onlookers had gathered. Fortunately, Anarkali emerged unscathed after the efforts to save her.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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