Story of a Swimming Elephant - as part of the news and politics series by GeoBeats.
Only one swimming elephant is left in the Andaman Island Archipelago located in the Indian Ocean’s Bay of Bengal.
At sixty years old, Rajan the elephant is finally retiring from a life of hard labor.
Along with some two hundred other elephants, Rajan was brought from the mainland to clear trees from the islands for the lumber companies, but the only way to move the elephants from island to island was to have them swim.
Rajan now only goes swimming a couple times a day for a few minutes with his owner and trainer.
The other swimming elephants have since left the islands, but Rajan has remained as a tourist attraction and as a part of the local culture in this exotic and remote corner of India, which was off limits to any foreign visitors until 1995.
Only 38 of the 572 Islands in the Archipelago are inhabited, and even fewer allow tourists to visit. The Andaman Islands are home to some of the most pristine protected land on Earth. There are indigenous local tribes, but according to Indian laws, it is illegal to make contact with them because of tour groups in the past exploiting their isolation.