Working Elephants


Humans in Asia first took advantage of the Asian Elephant's cooperative nature and tamed it for use as a beast of burden more than 4,000 years ago.  Ever since then, the people in central and southeast Asia have used elephants to haul lumber, transport crops, and even to carry heavy weapons and soldiers into battle. 

Some of these practices have persisted right up to modern times.  Even today, when traveling on the Indian subcontinent it is possible to come across an elephant working a field, just like the ones depicted here.  However, the use of elephants in this way is gradually declining as both the agricultural and logging industries convert to the use of tractors and other machines.  So, these are scenes that will be less and less likely in the future. 

It argued that such elephants are too tame and too dependent on humans to be released back into the wild.  So when elephants are displaced from their roles hauling lumber, they often are transferred by their owners to use in the tourist



photos M. Noonan is a program of Canisius College, Buffalo, NY.                                                  Web Design by Ivan Andrijevic