‘See, You Big Bludger, It Ain’t Heavy At All!’

Elephant and log

‘When the elephants approach a log they consider too heavy to tackle, they just turn and walk away, and no amount of persuasion by the mahouts will bring them back to that particular log. We have tried shifting a rejected log to another position, but to no avail – it is recognized and ignored. In such instances, the guard shouts and waves to us to take over the job. In his view seven pairs of men, each with a bamboo pole and a rope sling, are a sufficient substitute for an elephant. Maybe he thinks the animals are not imbued with the proper spirit of bushido and service to the Emperor. We aren’t either, but can do nothing about it! We have developed a certain pride in our ability to do this heavy work, and by mutual agreement we consider each one of us officially rated as “one fourteenth of an elephant.”’

‘We work comfortably with theses magnificent creatures (elephants), talking to them quietly when we are close to them and being careful to keep within their vision. The Nips, in contrast, stay at a respectful distance and eye them warily, frequently muttering amongst themselves’
Source: One Fourteenth of an Elephant, by Ian Denys Peek, 2005, Pg 114, 116

Extracts from One Fourteenth of an Elephant by Ian Denys Peek reprinted by permission of Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Ltd. Copyright © Ian Denys Peek 2003