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A Picture is Worth 5000 Years!

Man and Elephant, Kabini -

It’s a bond that has endured over 5000 years, through epochal moments in history and eras of relative calm that lay between the seismic cultural faults that defined human civilization. In fact, Eric Scigliano, in his iconic tome on the ‘man-animal’ bond, has propounded the theory that elephants may have been ‘nursemaids’ to human evolution, having shaped history, art, religion and popular culture like no other animal has. For those of us in India, who’ve grown up with elephants being part of our peripheral vision, this only provides scientific sanction of what we’ve known all along. Elephants have, since time immemorial, been both elevated as objects of worshipful wonder and brought down to earth as megatonne hauling machines. In between, they’ve provided many an army with the ‘shock and awe’ factor to plough through the opposition infantry and render numerical superiority meaningless. In times of peace, they’ve been the civil engineer’s greatest ally, multitasking as bulldozers that clear forests, cranes that lift loads and trucks that are transporters across rough terrain. Any discussion on elephants will be incomplete without factoring in their human alter egos: the Mahouts, whose bond with their elephants begins from the time they’re born. These hardy men have been, throughout history, the sole custodians of an almost sacred covenant between man and mammal, and continue to man that bridge, to this day. The picture above features the inimitable Meenakshi, the resident elephant at our resort, communing with the man in her life, the mahout at Orange County, Kabini. Guests who’ve made her acquaintance often remark on how such a powerful animal can yet be so gentle and caring, and we know a lot of them come back only to renew that bond with her. A bond that’s been 5000 years in the making!



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