Delhi's Last Urban Elephants by Delhi photographer Simon de Trey-White
2nd September 2014, Yamuna River, New Delhi, India. An elephant ridden by handlers and a Hindu devotee carrying a Ganesh idol for immersion walks near the Yamuna River on the 5th day of the Ganesh Chaturthi religious festival at the Yamuna River, New Delhi, India on the 2nd September 2014. Devotees pay for the elephant to carry the idol into the river as its seen to be auspicious
Ganesh Chaturthi is the Hindu festival celebrated in honour of the god Ganesha, the elephant-headed, remover of obstacles and the god of beginnings and wisdom.
Elephant handlers (Mahouts) eke out a living in makeshift camps on the banks of the Yamuna River in New Delhi. They survive on a small retainer paid by the elephant owners and by giving rides to passers by. The owners keep all the money from hiring the animals out for religious festivals, events and weddings, they also are involved in the illegal trade of captive elephants. The living conditions and treatment of elephants kept in cities in North India is extremely harsh, the handlers use the banned 'ankush' or bullhook to control the animals through daily beatings, the animals have no proper shelters are forced to walk on burning hot tarmac and stand for hours with their feet chained together.
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