This is the magnificent tusker Rajan who was 63 years old when I went to see him and who was the last swimming elephant and lived in the Andaman Islands, close to Burma but part of India. My obsession and love of elephants led me to see him at the Barefoot Resort on Havelock Island and in 2013 I made the long journey there with a dear friend who has since died. For that reason alone I can never sell this painting, which is 3 foot square, but will sell prints later this year. However, it was a magical time spent in the jungles of Havelock as Rajan spent his days shambling around the jungle with his mahout Cobu. I ‘helped’ him drink from a hosepipe attached to the tap, scrubbed him one early peerless morning on the beautiful beach and walked with him along the beach and through the jungles for his daily rummage for food. He had retired as the last logging elephant and one of the temples in India wanted him to live there as the temple elephant. This would have been no life for this amazing pachyderm, so the Barefoot Resort stepped in and bought him to spend his days in the jungle that he had known for so many years. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/indias-iconic-swimming-elephant_us_57a4d959e4b021fd98788b. As I am known in Sri Lanka as ‘Elephant Mummy’ (see previous post about Florence my orphan baby elephant), it was fitting that I made this journey. Sadly this wonderful creature died in July 2016 at the splendid age of 66 and is buried in the jungles of Havelock Island, which is a truly fitting place for him to lie at peace.
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