Wednesday, August 27, 2008


After a while travelling through places like Nepal and India, you get used to all the animals on the road. Horses and bullocks are always pulling things around, while cows, pigs, goats and chickens look on from the road’s edge. And of course, there’s always skinny dogs everywhere, exploring plastic bags and food scraps.

But as we walked down the main street of Sauraha, we added a new animal to the list of domesticated road users. Huge elephants plod up and down the streets of the small town, with their trainers perched on their shoulders. They really are enormous, much bigger than I would have imagined, and with their makeup on are impressive beasts indeed. The local horses, who even though they have very nice haircuts and pull around colourful buggies that are the main mode of public transport, look very insignificant next to the pachyderm hulks that cruise nonchalantly around the streets.

In Sauraha, they use the elephants mainly for tourist purposes, running groups into the nearby national park to look for one-horned rhinos. Traditionally, the elephants have for other, more practical functions, such as hauling building materials, chasing wild elephants out of villages and playing elephant polo (unfortunately, we were in town outside of polo season.)

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