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Photo du Jour: Swimming Elephants of the Andaman Islands

Olivier Blaise

The Andaman Islands are a group of archipelagic islands floating in the sparkling blue-green waters of the Bay of Bengal, between the Indian peninsula and Burma. Twenty-seven of the 500 isles in the archipelago are inhabited, and because of the heavily forested land, inhabitants have relied on the timber industry as their main source of income. But it’s not just the people who are doing the work—elephants are used on the islands to transport cut wood.

French photographer Olivier Blaise goes underwater to capture companion elephants Sarasu and Chandi in Swimming Elephants. Both belong to a wealthy landlord on the islands. The elephants work between isles and have been trained to swim to the next isle where more work awaits—here, one of them makes the trek. And though the timber work is hard, the Hindu god depicted with an elephant head, Ganesh, ensures that these elephants are well honored—as a rule, these working mammals have Sundays off and their work days end at 3pm.

  • Nick Carangi

    always loved elephants and it really is a shame that people hunt them for ivory. maybe someday I will buy one for myself, not a tusk, a live elephant, haha!