Elephants and Mahouts Show True Bonds

January 11, 2012
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Many organizations say that riding on the back of an elephant is the best method of nature travel because it allows humans to see the sights with relatively little disruption to the natural environment.

But usually, this is just a side project for elephants and their mahouts, or drivers. According to Elephant Aid International, elephants' lives are interrelated to Asian communities, playing a role in religion, economics and tribal life. They have long been revered as gods and honored as a national heritage animal, the organization says.

These mammals are now used primarily in the logging industry, to extract particular trees without disrupting the rest of the forest with roads and other damage, according to Laos Voices. Elephants and their mahouts often spend months in remote work sites, sharing days of logging.

That is, once the elephant is old enough. The news source says that owning an elephant is a family affair in Laos, and that elephants are passed down from father to son. When the animal is 3 years old it chooses its name from a list of three that the elder mahout has written down on a piece of wood. The elephants start working when they are 14 years old.

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