The Photographic Journal

Elephants in Captivity

Essay 50 • Jul 15th 2016

The entire series was shot in Sakrebailu Elephant Camp, Shimoga, India. The name Sakrebailu roughly translates to 'Sugar Fields' in the local language. The camp was started and is maintained by the state forest department to train and care for elephants from different backgrounds, such as those rescued from circus or private ownership, to elephants found in the man-animal conflict zones at the fringes of the forests. There are expert Mahouts that take care of these colossal beasts. Enthusiasts and tourists alike can spend time with the elephants every morning for few hours, after which the elephants are left to roam in a secure wooded area.

But I t is a place of great contrasts. On the one hand, you have the elephants taken care of with love and affection, but on the other you see chains dangling from their necks. They are free to roam during the day and yet you can see around their feet thick iron chains, to "protect" tourists.

The strongest emotion that one cannot miss is the bond between the mahout and the elephant. The joy of seeing them interact together is a major part of the experience. I have attempted to bring out these feelings through my photo essay here. Hope you enjoy them.



Aditya Deshpande

A motorsports engineer now turned professor for automotive engineering in a local engineering institute. Photography is a childhood passion and like most started with point and shoot Kodak film camera. Coming from a middle class Indian family, photography and motorsports are very expensive passions to pursue. I chose motorsports engineering as a career. Kept photography alive by borrowing camera from friends and relatives till corporate life took over and killed it completely. Resurrecting myself with a change in profession so as to keep both my passions alive. Photography is the greatest teacher I have come across in my life. She has taught me to observe, communicate and learn from everything around me.