Thursday, 26 January 2012

The elephant who never forgets to pack his trunks: Rajan the retired sea taxi enjoys a paddle in the Indian Ocean

After thirty years of service, some workers may never want to work see their employer again, but   Rajan the elephant who is retiring at 60 years old, doesn't want to leave his boss behind.

Looking forward to relaxing: Working aquatic-elephants like Rajan used to be a regular sight in the Andaman Islands, south of India, yet this 60-year-old five tonne Asian elephant is the last of his swimming kind

Replaced by motorised boats, the five tonne Asian elephant no longer needs to swim miles as a sea taxi around the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean.
So now he swims alongside his human keeper, known as a 'mahout', who has used him as a ferrying service for over 30 years.

Enjoying healthy swimming sessions in the twilight of his life, Rajan swims for ten minutes twice a day with his keeper, completing about 500 yards before heading back to shore.

Brazilian Photographer, Daniel Botelho, 30, travelled to the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean after hearing stories of islanders swimming with the giant beasts.

'The elephant always swims at four o clock in the morning as he does not like the sun,' said Daniel. I needed to be very careful, as the animal could smash me at any time.

'I would swim between him and the sea bottom - but I almost got killed by the elephant during one photo shoot. Suddenly swell came and took me and the elephant by surprise.

'I was stuck in the sand because of the crash of the wave. He says the elephant simply rolled on top and away from him, but it was an 'amazing experience.' Despite his scarily close encounter with Rajan, Daniel still thinks fondly of the intelligent beast, and explained his significance as the last of his kind.

Leisurely pace: In his retirement Rajan can now enjoy swimming purely for pleasure with his human keeper, who is known as a 'mahout'

'Local people used elephants as we used horses to work,' said Daniel.'When something needed to be built on an island they moved the animals by swimming long distances with them.'Now nobody has an economic interest in spending ten years training elephants to swim. As this is the last elephant to dive, he represents the end of an old culture.'

No comments:

Post a Comment