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A British photographer shows how even the largest creature on land can be graceful in the water....

Don't forget to pack your trunks!

By BEN CLERKIN

2nd January 2007


On land, he lumbers through the dust, bowed by the burden of his 3.5-ton bulk.

But in the ocean, Rajan is an elephant transformed: The cumbersome trundler becomes a creature of spellbinding speed and elegance.

His huge frame is seemingly weightless as he surges through the water, his tail streaming behind him and his trunk poking out of the water like a periscope.


Rajan swims in the sea off the coast of an island in India's Bay of Bengal. The photos were taken by British wildlife photographer Steve Bloom who has written about him in his new book "Elephant!"




And underwater is the only place you can view the bottom of this animal's four enormous feet -and live to tell the tale. Rajan is a retired logging elephant who spends his days on the beaches of a remote island in the Bay of Bengal.

As these striking images show, he loves nothing more than to venture into the sea. The pictures were shot by wildlife photographer Steve Bloom in the Andaman Islands and appear in his new book, Elephant!.





Recalling his experiences, Bloom says: "Rajan appeared in vivid detail, legs kicking wildly, trunk waving madly, all in a swirl of giant bubbles. Yes, elephants do fly, and Rajan was coming straight for me!

"He seemed to erupt with joy as he bounded up from the ocean bed, which dropped away from his feet amid exploding clouds of fine sand.

"For a while I was transported into an exquisite, dreamlike world, where elephants are weightless and dance a kind of surreal ballet. Rajan, liberated from his enormous bulk, explored his own free spirit."


Rajan absolutely loves the water


Rajan was capable of being dangerous but Bloom believes he went out of his way not to harm him.

"During the many sessions we spent together, we learned to swim in tandem," he says. "At times I swam extremely close to him and could see the warm glint in his eye.

"With one swift turn of the head, he could have struck me with his giant tusk and killed me.

"I am, however, convinced that he recognised me, and took great care to ensure I was not harmed, often turning away to avoid a collision."

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Last edited by Blackleaf; Jan 2nd, 2007 at 01:36 PM..