My Lord Elephant


I’ve always liked elephants, lucky enough to see elephants from a very young age. Either in Asia or in Africa. West and East. They’re the strongest animal on earth. And though dangerous, are a peaceful bunch. On the verge of extinction. Above: a “rubbing” of a bas-relief in Angkor that we bought on site this past January. Now framed it graces the staircase. The original bas-relief is probably from the 12th century.

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Amboseli, Kenya, 1988. Most sensational literature talks about the “big males” when elephants actually are organized as a matriarchal society. Females rule.

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Colombian elephant. Provides energy for a few blocks in Bogotá.

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Murchison Falls, Uganda, c.1969. This is one of the sources of the Nile.

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Cambodian elephants at a trade fair, Phnom-Penh. c. 1905. (I wasn’t there! 🙂 Source: Vues de l’Indochine, a wonderful photo album of a time long-gone.) Note how long the tusks were, when one is now accustomed to see Asian elephants with small or no tusks at all.

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Tsavo national park, Kenya. c. 1969. The elephants there are red, because or the red earth. Most likely laterite. Rich with iron-ore. Hence the colour: the iron is just “rusty”. Elephants “bathe” frequently in earth to eliminate parasites.


Bangkok, this past January. This is the Royal palace I believe. (Mental note: take more notes while traveling)

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Angry elephant, on the Nairobi-Mombasa road. We may have come too close with the car. Oops.


My Lord Ganesh, Penang, Malaysia. 2017. Ganesh or Ganesha is the son of Shiva and Parvati, he is the God of Wisdom. We might use some of his help worldwide…

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Nairobi-Monbasa road, c.1969. The road at one point crosses Tsavo National park. Elephants have right of way.


Elephant necklace. India, mid 20th century. Craftsmanship at its best. Sorry about the ivory.


Royal elephants, Luang-Prabang, Laos. c.1920. In La France Lointaine.


Singapore zoo, December 2017. I used to love zoos. I now have more mixed feelings. But the Singapore Zoo is very well put together. Animals have space and do look well taken care of. At the end of the day, zoos may eventually be the only place where our grandchildren may see formerly wild animals.


Or at the back of a car? My Lord Ganesh again. May wisdom prevail.

To be continued…

48 thoughts on “My Lord Elephant

  1. Symbole de puissance, de paix et de sagesse … et pourtant maltraité. Étrange que la colère ne lui soit pas rattachée. Parce qu’un éléphant en colère, ça déménage. Mieux vaut y assister à bonne distance.
    Merci, Brieuc.

  2. Elephants are beautiful. We saw several at the Portland, Oregon (USA) Zoo. This zoo does a terrific job of rescuing elephants, breeding and educating the public on elephants. Zoos can be very beneficial as they do allow people the opportunity to see up close and learn about animals that many of us would never see.

  3. We are still lucky to see herds of elephants in SA, but in the past years there has been a deadly onslaught on these animals. I don’t know what it is with humans, really!! Wonderful post, Brian!

    • Dankie Dina. I do envy you to still be able to see them. I’m not sure for how many more years. I’m sorting and cataloguing my Kenya pix and think about how things have changed. Huge slums around Nairobi for one thing. The encroaching of Parks by humans in desperate need for land and food. Tsss.
      So enjoy your parks while you can.
      Tot ziens.

      • We are keeping an eye on our parks, because it brings in a lot of revenue. But all around the parks people are living right up to the fences. The water usage of the rivers is also a problem and some rivers going through the Kruger, have dried up for the first time. Together with drought and population explosion, these are factors that really worry me.

      • Same thing happens in East Africa I’m told. Human settlements are growing. Sometimes encroaching on the parks. And wildlife is eating crops… Worrying indeed.

  4. Lovely images. Elephants are indeed a majestic and impressive site, and the calves impossibly cute (I recall a visit to an elephant orphanage in Sri Lanka). But in the way that we humans anthropomorphise, I cannot help but be attracted to the way they often look as if they’re smiling.

    • I guess all babies are cute, regardless of the species. 🙂 Sri Lanka? That is an exceptional place. Where I haven’t been, my parents did, but I wasn’t born yet. How did you like “Ceylon”?

      • I guess babies are designed to make us want to look after them – ourselves in miniature, an appeal to the ego?
        Sri Lanka – no one can know or truly comment on a place after a mere holiday, particularly not one with the complexities of politics it has but yes, inevitably, beautiful, fascinating, sometimes grubby – as any town or city partially will be.

  5. Was fortunate to see many in the wild in Africa, then captive in SE Asia. I read that some have genetically transformed to have no tusks in reaction to ivory poachers. Amazing! Loved your post

    • Thank you for that Kim. 🙂 My heart rests at peace. (I also have several “antique” ivory artifacts which I’m not giving up) The interesting thing is that in all those centuries of using ivory for art, the elephant population was not in danger. It’s only in the second half of the 20th century, that poaching sky rocketed, and still does.

  6. I used to have a Lord Ganesh mask. It hung for years in my D.C. apartment. Not sure where it lumbered to. On another note, adult grandchildren just flew to Philippines for a wedding and from there to Thailand to ride elephants. Ah, youth.

    • Let youth enjoy youth. 🙂
      A mask? I love masks! Have a few in my library. Hope you find him one day.
      Now D.C.? I didn’t know you’d lived there? (Were you a Senator in one of your many lives?) It’s a pleasant town. I like it.
      Be good, “Juanita”.

    • It’s a good one. My father’s actually. (I only had a lousy Instamatic camera but had fun). The place is magical, by the waters of the Victoria Nile, near the source of the Nile, which so many explorers searched in the 19th century. 🙂

  7. Pingback: My Lord Buddha and the elephant | Equinoxio

    • Jumbo? Probablement. Tu n’as jamais été en Afrique j’imagine? ce sont des animaux étonnants. Un peu effrayants de près. (Ma soeur en avait une peur bleue. La panique totale). Les animaux terrestres les plus forts et les plus puissants, comme je le dit dans le post: “on n’emm… personne et personne ne nous emm…” Sauf l’homme. Il en rest encore 500,000. Il y a encore un peu d’espoir. A bientôt Amélie.

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