Sacred Elephants - Rui Pires

Sacred Elephants

(India, 2016)


The elephants are extremely important, respected and revered in Indian culture. It's such a strikingly beautiful and opulent animal and is nearly impossible to think about India without thinking about elephants.

It seems that, when it comes to this type of subject, I should make a distinction between a true Indian from any regular Indian, or Hindu, as Indian culture and Hinduism, in spite of many foreign influences, are forever intertwined.

It is because may be hard to find somebody in India who don't know how important those animals are. Only, their personal approaches may vary from person to person. But truly Indians, and Hindus, are in some way or the other, committed with this animal. Be it as an admirer, a believer, a worker, etc. Wildlife Fund - WWF and the International Union for Conservation of Nature - IUCN red list, the Indian elephant conservation status is in much worse condition than their African counterparts.

Even though in recent years India undertook efforts to stabilize the situation, passing some of the most stringent laws for the protection of elephants, keeping up with the numbers is still a serious problem.

The three main reasons behind this problem are the following: First, the problem of the past and present killings for reasons like to obtain Elephant ivory, either to make decorative objects and props, or to use the tusk powder in the so called aphrodisiac preparations. The latter being the same problem with the near extinction of African rhinos, killed for their horns.

Second, because the elephant gestational cycle is very long "Typically lasts around two years with interbirth intervals usually lasting four to five years", while to kill the animal it takes nothing... so we can expect that the process of the recovery of their populations will be a very long one.

Third, because there are laws that people abide and laws that people don't abide. And laws that people simply will not obey at all. Just because! Plus, the law enforcement is not only poor, but agents responsible for upholding the law may take bribes to turn a blind eye. So, I'm still hoping they will not be extinct in spite of so many evidences to the contrary.

This portfolio shows the care that elephant’s owners have by his friends. Every day they clean the animals in nearby river, as ritual.


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