Elephants, of Course. A Working Elephant to be Precise.

I had planned to write about “ego”, a subject that’s interested me for a while, and even more since I began this blogging.   But that would be a bit heavy for a Friday, don’t you think?  And anyway, ever since the Arrange Challenge, I’ve been wanting to show you a series of photographs I have of an elephant loading logs onto a flatbed truck.

It was one of those pieces of pure Sri Lankan serendipity.  My friend Mo and I were almost lost on the  back roads – as we like to be – heading vaguely in the direction of Kandy.  We weren’t exactly flying, exploring as we were – exclaiming over shady old trees, or sparkling waterfalls – when, rounding a bend, we were forced to an abrupt halt by a veritable traffic jam blocking the narrow road.   Since we’d seen hardly anyone for the last ten or 15 minutes, a traffic jam had to be investigated.

“What is it?”, Mo called.  It took a moment for the scene to register.  A slight man in a green shirt and sarong, a neatly furled black umbrella slung across his back,  sat astride an elephant, legs tucked behind its ears.  The elephant, for its part, was lifting a twelve-foot length of log high onto the back of a heavily laden truck.  “Come”  I croaked.  “Come and look.”  And for the next forty minutes or so, until the final log was loaded, we joined the other onlookers, watching silently as the animal worked.

It was engrossing:  the deliberate precision of each movement as balance married strength to achieve each perfectly executed manoeuvre – performed silently, and with the greatest  economy.  Everybody involved knew his role, there was no drama, no excitement.  Simply the grandeur of the scene before us.  This very large animal responding with willing compliance to the directions of his small mahout, as, together, they executed a task which would have taken all these men and twice as many more, the better part of a day to fulfil.

42 thoughts on “Elephants, of Course. A Working Elephant to be Precise.

  1. Love the photos. I just read an interesting little blurb about the trunk of an elephant the other day. It (the trunk) has 40,000 muscle fibers which allows it to move in any direction…it can pick up a small coin or use it to lift up to 600lb loads. Amazing for you to see it in action.

    • Truly the most mazing limb. Thanks for giving us the exact numbers because they illustrate just how amazing. I keep looking at it (the trunk) curled around that log, and see the muscles swelling with the effort, and am in awe.

    • Thanks Naomi. In the end, if I remember correctly, it was eliminated on the basis that the elephant probably wasn’t arranging the logs for the mahout’s enjoyment! Anyway I’m glad one of the shots didn’t make the cut, because now I can show you the series in all its glory.

    • Hey Mr. FP – how you feeling after your marathon session yesterday? Hope you’re not left with adrenaline withdrawals? Thanks for dropping by and watching my elephant. Magnificent, incredible creatures.

    • Well, I wouldn’t know about that, but I doubt it, really. I don’t think an elephant often knows about fear – what’s it they say: king (or in most cases, Queen) of all he surveys … Interestingly, Elephus Maximus Maximus, the Sri Lanka elephant, has a low incidence of tusks, and only in males. They’re not sure why, but it’s probably because they didn’t need them.

  2. YASNIGER nominates you for the VBA & Lucky 7 Awards!

    My gratitude goes to james369 ; http://thewayhome.me/ for norminating me for the Versatil Blogger Award (VBA) & Kellie Larsen Murphy: http://kellielarsenmurphy.com/ for the Lucky 7 award. I feel quite honored for the recognition. As it is traditional, I wish to extend the same curtsey to your blog. You’ll find details in my blog; http://yasniger.wordpress.com/
    Thank you for following and veiwing my blog!
    Yas Niger

  3. I love these series of photographs…….
    they are just amazing and beautiful creatures…….
    I got to see them carry logs and do many stuff first hand in Singapore…..
    I was really holding myself back, from entering the enclosure and trying to push the log myself…
    they make it look so EASY 😀

    I got to ride an elephant myself in an Elephant conservation site in Malaysia, and I was surprised how rough their skin was, I guess without it they couldn’t survive the harsh environment.

    they had this beautiful calf, I just couldn’t stop hugging it 😀 She had such beautiful, hazel eyes 😀

    • The babies! They render me speechless (doesn’t often happen, yea, yea …). I don’t know what I like the best – tiny little body, all loose limbed, tripping over its front feet; it’s wriggling little trunk, or the sparse there inch stubble on its head? Or the fuzz on its cheeks? Born comics, and soooo greedy. I’ve been smitten since my first visit, when a really small baby made its debut among the other babies at the orphanage at Pinawella. It came up and tried to nuzzle my hand with its trunk, so we compromised and I wound my hand and wrist around its trunk and we had a moment. Time stopped still for me, and he understood the feeling of winding his trunk – I’ll never forget it.

  4. Really really cool! I can’t believe elephants can work like that. I love elephants and was lucky to see a herd of them on a safari in South Africa. I especially adore the babies. So precious. Thanks for sharing!

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