Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Mahout

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What is a Mahout I hear you say?

A Mahout is that guy on top of the pachyderm. It's the person who trains and drives the elephant.
Mahout comes from the hindi word mahavat. These trainers start very early as a young boy and are each assigned an elephant with whom they will "bond". They usually stay with the same elephant all their life (or until one of them dies obviously).
Originally, mahouts used to train elephants to help with logging in the forests. These big strong animals pulled huge logs across long distances in the jungle. But when Thailand banned logging due to widespread destruction of the forests, more and more elephants started to be used (especially in Thailand) for the tourism business.
Today 95% of Thai elephants are privately owned and domesticated in elephant parks to offer shows and rides for the demanding tourists.

On the photo, you can also notice the ankus, a sharp metal hook mounted on a stick that the mahout uses to handle (or punish) the elephant. Luckily I've only seen them use the stick part to tap on the head.

2 comments:

SpunkyGirl said...

L.O.V.E. This is one of my favourite photos. I'm dying to get to Chiang Mai and check everything out- including the elephants!

Daniel N. said...

Thanks a lot Pam!

Yeah, not much left! You can enjoy all his very soon ;)

Cheers!

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