Elephants Again


IN the February number of the Atlantic Monthly there was published an article deploring the cruelty involved in the trapping of small animals for fur. This attitude has elicited some support in the correspondence columns. In the April number appeared an article entitled ‘Elephants,’ written by a Mr. Defosse, dealing mainly with elephant hunting. It will be interesting to see if this too calls forth any comment, but possibly it will be surprising if it does, for to most Americans the elephant is a strange and dangerous, though sagacious, beast, only to be seen in circuses and zoos, while it is understood that all dangerous animals are fair game in the Orient.

With the trapping of fur-bearing animals most Americans have at least approximateI familiarity. They can appreciate the perfect slow cruelty of the snap trap which is a familiar object on sale in every hardware store. They can appreciate, also, the bitter wait for death in the cold and the last few moments of terror when the trapper at length puts in an appearance. Extreme cold is common to most of North America, it all happens near home, and the dressed pelts are to be seen in the shops and on the backs of human beings. This familiarity gives a sympathy which cannot thrive on ignorance.

Mr. Defosse’s article describes with frankness the killing of elephants on a fairly considerable scale. Usually the females and young of any game are considered to be inviolable, except in cases of extremity when the animals are killed for meat. Nothing, however, is safe from Mr. Defosse, to whose rifle immature males, females, and calves are equally welcome. By any standards indiscriminate butchery of this description is inexcusable and brutal, all the more brutal, indeed, because it yields nothing, neither trophy nor meat, neither skin nor sport. It Is, in short, the destruction of harmless animals leading for the most part peaceful lives in jungles remote and large enough to hold them. Nor does Mr. Defosse only kill painlessly, for he appears to have used solely weapons quite insufficient in power. He required, as he states in many cases, more than one shot to finish his work, and his percentage of loss of wounded animals is probably high. Admittedly one can kill an elephant with a small-bore rifle, but for the kind of shooting he describes, in thick jungle where many shots must needs be taken without waste of time at imperfectly seen animals, the use of anything less than a double-barreled .450 bore is both rash and unfair to the animals hunted. The question of rashness, however, is Mr. Defosse’s affair. As regards the other, if one must go shooting game one should make sure of killing it outright.

Ethically there is possibly no difference between killing an elephant and killing a smaller animal, but it is the motive that justifies to most of us the taking of a life. The furbearing animal, although few can endorse the common methods of his capture, at least has a skin to offer which is useful and generally ornamental. An elephant has his tusks, but beyond that nothing worth taking. There is, of course, the aspect of sport. Of all big-game shooting, elephant hunting is the most dangerous, as it is in this that man is most evenly matched with his quarry. It is done on foot, and beast and man face each other with the trumps more evenly divided than is generally the case. It is the opportunity to indulge a taste for excitement in a test of courage and endurance, of which the trophy is the proof, that induces most men to go hunting dangerous game. There are few men who have not the hunting instinct in one form or another, and it is the cost in energy that makes the hunt worth while. How far indulgence is justified is neither here nor there, but there are certain welldefined conventions involved, most of which aim at the preservation of game by the prevention of killing the young, the female, and the immature. Only those beasts which have reached full development and strength are considered a proper match and shootable.

Mr. Defosse, however, has disregarded these conventions entirely and appears to have entered into a course of wholesale slaughter. And all for what? For little, indeed, apparently; but only those who have seen it can appreciate to the full the appalling waste involved in a putrefying mass of some five tons of elephant tissue.

There are fortunately, however, many men in India, Burma, and Siam who know the elephant, know him and look upon him, in fact, much as a farmer looks upon his horses. These men are mostly in the big timber forests, and it is upon the elephant that they have largely to depend for both transport and draft. They are in close contact with the animals under them, a contact which, incidentally, has to cover a very considerable veterinary experience. They know elephants individually and generally, and with few exceptions they regard them as kindly and very wise.


I am, or rather was, one of those in direct control of elephants, for I belong to a firm whose main business it is to extract teak from the forests of Burma and Siam. My firm, the biggest engaged in that business, manufactures some sixty-five million board feet of teak annually. To supply the mills and to bring the logs from stump to floating streams, a force of over two thousand five hundred elephants are employed, which represent a value of about three and three-quarter million dollars gold. At a conservative estimate, the elephant power employed in Burma and Siam alone is probably worth fifteen million dollars. It is not surprising that, with capital sunk to this extent, elephant knowledge should have become a fine science.

Timber elephants do not lead captive lives, but lives which are in as many respects as possible similar to those of wild animals.

Normally in wild life an elephant will feed for eighteen to twenty hours out of the twenty-four, this time being required to fill his enormous bulk with green food. Included in his feeding time are his moving and drinking times, for he generally will feed as he moves and he seldom moves without plucking at leaves, unless disturbed. He sleeps very little, generally an hour or two at a time.

In the light form of bondage of timber elephants, working hours are three to four hours daily during the early morning and only for four days a week. As he is not worked during the hot-weather period, an elephant’s working year is only about four hundred hours, but even this imposes a strain on his physique which is counteracted as far as possible by daily rations of salt and the fruit of the tamarind, of which he is very fond, while paddy (unhusked rice) is given under certain conditions. He is also taken down to bathe daily and his hide is scrubbed with rough bark and cocoanut husk. During his hours of idleness he is allowed to wander at will in the jungle, prevented from straying only by chain fetters on his forefeet, which allow him to walk with some ease, and also by a long trailing chain which makes an easily recognizable track by which he may be followed. Around his neck he wears a bell, and this in most forests is wooden, but in the rare instance of a dangerous animal a metal one may be substituted whose distinctive note serves as a warning.

The net result of all the care and attention bestowed on him is that the captive beast is generally fatter and better-looking than the wild. At the same time, the knowledge of the elephant in these conditions is not the specialized knowledge of a beast in captivity, but covers the habits of the free animal as well. I have met frequently, and shot occasionally, the wild elephant, and experience of him only goes to confirm experience gained in dealing with our captive herds.


Generally speaking, the Indian elephant stands some eight and a half to nine feet at the shoulder for grown males and seven and a half to eight for females. Elephants over ten feet in height are known, but are extremely rare, while the largest recorded is probably that of which the skeleton stands in the Indian Museum in Calcutta, and which apparently attained the magnificent height of nearly twelve feet.

The age cycle of an elephant’s life is very similar to that of humans. A youngster is put to light work at sixteen and gains his full development at twenty-five, and, though females may carry calves at eighteen, this is young. The animals are getting past work at sixty-five, and although there are, I believe, instances of great life in elephants, our experience is that they seldom live beyond seventy-five.

The males are frequently provided with tusks, but this is by no means universal, and the finest physical development is reached in those males that have no tusks at all. These are known in Burma as hines and in India as mukna. The tuskless males frequently dominate the tuskers, in which connection the Burman and Indian riders have it that a hine can defeat a tusker in a fight by passing the trunk under one of his adversary’s tusks and over the other, and, by applying pressure, either throwing him or smashing a tusk. There is, so far as I know, no reliable evidence in favor of this, but it is a fact that tuskless males often rule the herd.

Males frequently grow only one tusk, but these single-tuskers have no outstanding characteristics. Females occasionally have rudimentary tusks which are in reality no more than tushes, and which when removed are found to be practically hollow and of a fibrous substance which is hardly ivory.

Elephants as a rule are kindly disposed, and, although sometimes one may come across a ‘rogue,’ these are fortunately rare. Rogues become so from various causes. Old wounds, suppurating and maggoty, are frequently the reason, while tusk trouble, which is equivalent to violent toothache, is another common cause. Otherwise they are simply bad-tempered animals who have become crotchety and sulky. True, on occasion male elephants get into the state called musth, the symptoms of which, and possibly the cause, are excessive secretions in certain head glands. Musth has no connection with sex, although this is commonly thought to be the case, nor is it common in wild animals, for the low feeding and steady labor of getting a living are not conducive to the condition. Animals in captivity are generally most liable to it in the hot weather when they are off work, but the symptoms can be detected easily and the condition prevented by low diet and a dose of a pound of Epsom salts. If necessary, opium is also given, which has a sedative effect.

There are, of course, occasions when a captive elephant comes on musth, becomes a nuisance, and has to be tied up and hand fed until the attack is over. If he gets loose he is apt to be very dangerous. On one occasion one of our best workers, a big male with heavy tusks, was allowed to come on musth and, through carelessness, to break away in that condition. Thereafter he eluded all attempts at recapture. We tried to give him opium and ganja (that is, hashish, a hempen narcotic drug) by putting down paddy with balls of the drug mixed in, but he generally sorted out the sedatives and ate the paddy. We tried to noose him without success and finally to lame him by shooting a piece of sharpened bamboo, the size of a candle, into his foreleg from a twelve-bore gun. An elephant’s foreleg is full of nerves and small bones, and he is easily lamed there, while the effect of the wound is to bring him off musth. We were, in fact, prepared to do anything, as he was destroying everything within reach. He had practically wrecked one Chin village and had killed two men.

One of our British managers took up the matter. After trailing the elephant for a fortnight, the manager one evening, at the end of a long day’s march, came in sight of his tents, which were pitched in the shade at the end of an open space covered with yellow paddy stubble two square miles in extent. To the left was a river bed, now almost dry, but affording good cover. This, however, was reported empty by a Burman tracker. To the right was open plain for a mile, with only a small patch of bushes two hundred yards away which did not look as if it would harbor a partridge, but it was out of this that the elephant came. The manager was walking fifty yards ahead of his Burman tracker, who was carrying his heavy double-barreled .500 cordite rifle. The sun, which was now on a level with the trees, was behind them, and the trees were throwing long shadows, when into the golden light stepped the elephant, his tusks gleaming. He stood for a moment without a sound, as if dazzled by the level rays of the sun, and then his head went back, his trunk curled up in a ball, and he started at a pace with which one who does not know elephants could not credit him. The manager had hardly time to shout ‘Hsin Bok!’ (‘The Tusker!’) before his rifle was in his hands. Fortunately the rifle was loaded, in expectation of something of the sort, with two solid nickel-jacketed bullets, each weighing 480 grains and each backed with 61 grains of cordite.

But now came the most trying time of that silent charge. To shoot too soon meant the possibility of a miss, for an elephant’s brain offers a small target and the brain shot is the only stopper. Further, an elephant with his head up, and his precious trunk curled up out of harm’s way, presents a nice problem of calculation of angles to one who is used to judging the aiming mark when the head is down in a normal position.

Holding on meant that nerves had to be kept in check and a steady hand meanwhile ensured. On he came, his feet going like the beat of the pistons of a huge machine, and the ground shook.

All this time the manager was wondering what the head office in Rangoon would say to a dead elephant worth eight thousand rupees (three thousand dollars). One may call that silly, but it probably kept his head clear and hand steady. More and more enormous loomed the elephant, clearly outlined against the dark trees. At seventy yards, up went the rifle; at fifty, the first barrel smacked with no apparent effect; at twenty, the second. Down he went, sliding on his forefeet in the dust, his tusks ploughing the earth in a shower. He came to a stop a foot or two short of his objective, his head resting between his legs in a curiously repentant attitude.

The manager looked around — the sun was still above the trees, the Burman tracker was still standing unmoved behind him. It had all taken about twenty-five seconds. The tension was over, and all that remained was a slight feeling of depression. No sense of victory, no sense of elation — only a vast relief and a great regret that the hunt was over.


Elephants are keen neither of sight, of scent, nor of hearing. I realize that in saying this I contradict Mr. Defosse, but the jungle standard of these senses is so high that elephants do not stand comparison with the other inhabitants. Nor, indeed, is there any reason for the elephant to be on the alert, for he has nothing to fear except the occasional killing of a calf by a tiger. The story of Mr. Defosse moving through the jungle and finding himself without warning within two feet of an elephant’s tail illustrates the point. This is, of course, a perfectly possible situation, but it shows no well-developed sense in the elephant. With no other jungle beast could Mr. Defosse have done this. A sambhur stag would have been aware of his presence several hundred yards away in thick jungle, and would have melted into the background without his knowledge. A bison would have been alert, too, but possibly would have waited to catch sight of him.

I can also support my statement from my own experience. One of our elephant camps had lost a young tusker who was suspected of having joined a wild herd known to be in the neighborhood, and we were all eager to get him back. A few days later, when I was out on inspection, one of my Burman followers, an expert tracker, came to me with the news that this herd was feeding within a mile of us, and he proposed seeing whether our tusker was with it. I was doubtful as to how this was to be done, but allowed myself to be posted on a shady rock in the bed of a creek, with my rifle, in case of accidents. I was to leeward of the herd, but I could hear the elephants close to me and could occasionally see them within a hundred yards. My Burman slipped into the herd and examined each one in turn. There were twentysix elephants, and as he did not know the beast in question he had to manœuvre to see the rump of each possible one to find the firm’s brand. Not content with this, he went to windward and shepherded the whole herd down my creek undisturbed. They passed in a long procession, some within ten feet of me. Some even stopped for a moment to take a shower bath, but not one was aware of what was driving him. At that moment I would as soon have shot a horse or a cow on a farm as any one of them.


The sources of supply for timberworking elephants are various, but by far the greatest number are born into the service. The parents of these calves may be two elephants working in the same camp, but it frequently happens that the female is visited by a male from a wild herd. The mating is quite promiscuous, and it would be difficult to arrange for it to be otherwise, for there is no rutting season and neither animal shows any physical change before mating takes place. Whether wild females visit captive males is unknown, though it is possible, for the mating is the result of companionship and a period of quiet courtship, and, as males visit females, the converse is also possible. It is not always known when a wild bull mates with a captive female, but it is always known when mating occurs with a captive male, for his fetters scar the female’s shoulders. It is sometimes difficult to tell when two elephants are likely to mate, for there is no previous excitement on their part or on the part of other males. Two animals will form a friendship and this will develop into constant companionship. They will join each other feeding in the jungle, and it may come about that they will not work unless together. After weeks, possibly months, of this, mating wall take place. Only then do the animals show any excitement, and both take an equal part in the final stages of the courtship.

The period of gestation is from eighteen to twenty-two months. Both Indians and Burmans claim that the period is longer for a male calf than a female, but we have no evidence to support this. It is difficult sometimes to tell if a cow is in calf, and even the presence of milk at the teats is not satisfactory proof. There have been cases in which an elephant has walked into camp with a newly born calf happily at heel, previous to which no one had suspected her condition. The explanation of this is that elephants are frequently what is called in a horse ‘well sprung’ — that is to say, the ribs come out well from the spine, and, as she carries her calf forward, it can easily escape detection.

Parturition seems to take place very easily, and a calf can walk almost as soon as it is born. The trunk at first is rudimentary in the extreme; a good illustration of it is in Just So Stories, where a woodcut shows the crocodile of ‘the great gray-green, greasy Limpopo River’ stretching the young elephant’s nose. The calf sucks with his mouth, with the trunk curled back. Contrary to common belief, the elephant does not drink with his trunk, the use of the trunk in drinking being confined to taking up water, which is then squirted back into the mouth.

Another source of elephant supply is the keddah, a form of stockade with a wide mouth narrowing to a bottle neck, into which a herd is driven or into which it may wander. A certain number of elephants are caught also by a method known in Assam as mela Shikar. The method is simplicity itself, but it is a test of courage, skill, and endurance for the hunter. All that is required is a long rope made of twisted rattan cane, about three to four hundred feet in length, with a noose at one end. The hunter will then go in search of the herd, and from it he will pick the animal he requires, generally a young tusker, who must first be isolated from the rest of the herd. Infinite patience is required until eventually he is found feeding in a favorable position alone. Then the real business begins. The rattan rope is uncoiled and the noose brought to the elephant, who must not become aware of the presence of danger, and all that remains to be done is to make him put a foot into the noose. This can be achieved by tickling him with long pieces of grass, which makes him fidgety, and when he lifts a foot the noose is slipped under it. Once about his leg, the noose is gradually raised until it is a little off the ground. But the capture is not yet complete, for an elephant in full vigor, with a quite insufficient noose around one leg, is by no means overpowered. A noise is made behind him and off he goes with three to four hundred feet of cane rope trailing behind him. The effect of this is to terrify him and set him off at his best speed, with the rope catching in every tree and wearing him down. Here comes the test of endurance for the hunter, for an elephant may go like this for ten or twelve or even twenty hours, traveling at eight or ten miles an hour, and the hunter must keep on his tracks the whole time to secure him as soon as exhaustion overcomes him. Eventually he stops, winded and incapable of movement, and is secured as promptly as may be.

An elephant secured, however, is by no means an elephant in the working camp, no matter how he has been caught. He can be trained in three weeks, but he is not fit for work for a year, and deaths in this period may be as many as 35 per cent, generally from heart trouble due to the strain of being captured.

Training will begin with handling and feeding, to accustom the animals to humans. The handling usually begins with light touches with long pieces of bamboo, until eventually the elephant reaches the stage where he can be put into a sort of cage of stout timber over which there is a horizontal bar some four feet above his back. A man will then lower himself on to the back, moving about until the animal is accustomed to this too. In the meanwhile he is walked out daily, carrying light loads to which he is gradually accustomed, and with a heavy rope around his neck attached to one or, if necessary, two trained elephants who are known as koonkies, or schoolmasters. Any punishment necessary is administered by a koonkie and may consist of a beating with the trunk or a butt in the side. Koonkies are usually heavy and very steady females who appear to take a satisfaction in their work. One in our service, Koonkie Rose by name, was particularly good with calves and would stand no nonsense until she formed a liaison with a newly captured tusker. The calf she bore was wickedly spoiled by her and she could hardly be persuaded to let anyone touch it. Eventually she was induced to take up her duties with the calf at heel.

It sometimes happens, although it is strictly forbidden, that pets are made of calves in elephant camps, and these often develop into dangerous animals. When little they are encouraged to play with the men, but this does not last long, for they soon reach a stage when their play ceases to be a joke. If promptly disciplined, they may even then be made into steady and useful animals, but once allow them to discover their absolute physical power over humans, and their dispositions are permanently ruined. It becomes impossible to eradicate the effects of the discovery — bad temper follows punishment, and the result is an animal whose disposition is a constant danger to those who have to handle him.


The actual work which elephants perform varies widely. Until a few years ago they wore employed in the sawmills in Rangoon for bringing logs up to the saws and piling the cut balks, but electric log hauls and winches have driven them out. Nowadays their work is practically confined to the jungle and most commonly consists in dragging the teak logs from stump to either floating streams or cart roads.

A teak forest is not a forest in the ordinary sense of the word. It has no counterpart in the North, where areas of pine and fir, consisting exclusively of one type of tree, may be clear-felled and mechanical extraction of various types utilized. A teak forest is thick forest with possibly one fellable teak tree to the acre, the remainder being trees of other species, which it does not pay at the moment to extract.

The country in which teak grows is generally so inaccessible, roadless, and mountainous that movement is difficult anywhere without elephant transport for tents and stores. The bottoms of the valleys have creeks which fill in the rainy season, but are dry the rest of the year, and it is on these that the extraction of teak depends. Green teak, however, is too heavy to float, and as the forests are ravaged annually by brush fires, which would consume any log lying on the ground, the method has been adopted of killing the standing trees over an area by girdling the bark at the base. The trees are then allowed to stand for three years, after which, when the sap has drained and dried, work is started in the area. A camp of Burman fellers and some five or six elephants and riders under a headman are sent in, and this becomes their home for the time being.

The trees are felled and logged, and here starts the elephants’ job. Each log is ‘snubbed’ — that is to say, has one end cut away on the under side to make it drag easily without splitting, and a recessed hole at each end is cut, through which a chain may be passed. The drag chains are shackled on, and the drag through thick jungle to the stream begins. On arrival the logs are laid straight along the bottom of the creek to await the freshet which will carry them out to the main river, where they are collected and rafted for the journey to Rangoon.

But it is not always so simple as all that. Sometimes there is no way down to the nearest stream, and in this case a log slide must be made down which the logs are pushed. Elephants learn the mechanics of a slide surprisingly quickly, and it is a pretty sight to see an elephant, after being unshackled from a log at the top of a slide, pick up and hand his drag chain to his rider, and then manœuvre the log square with the end of the slide with both tusks and forefeet. He gathers himself and gives it one push with his tusks and trunk, possibly following it with a kick with a forefoot. He critically watches it on its way down the slide, only to turn to go back for another as soon as it is properly started. Occasionally roads are made in good country and logs are carted to streams by buffaloes, the elephants being used to load the logs into the carts. A good tusker can lift a log on his tusks, and he is quite capable of putting it on a cart single-handed, touching at this end and that to get it square.

The other main duty of elephants is what is called ‘ounging,’ the movement of logs by the head. When logs jam in a stream bed in the rains, ounging elephants are sent to clear the jam. By pushing with the tusks or forehead and pulling with the trunk, working shoulder-deep in water, they move the key logs, and then the whole thing is straightened out.

It was in ounging that one of our females was nearly lost, for she slipped and fell into a deep hole in a rocky stream bed, where she was caught in a kind of sitting position. A tremendous rush of water was going past her and only a couple of feet of trunk showed above the surface, through which she could breathe, and with which she snatched at everything within reach. Normally she would have swum, but she was in some way stuck and the question was how to move her. As it happened, the banks were precipitous above her, which enabled us to fell two stout trees across the stream from bank to bank over her head, and to these we attached three chain hoists. Now an elephant weighs about five tons and is no easy matter to shift; also we had to get something around her with which to hoist. Meanwhile it was raining and we had reports of the stream rising, but fortunately it showed no signs of doing so. In that forest we had a squad of expert swimmers whose job it was to deal with logs caught in the booms, and one of these men volunteered to pass a girth under her elbows. This, however, we were not prepared to allow, for if he had come within reach of her trunk he would have been caught and drowned. Instead, we weighted two girths, and after several attempts succeeded in passing them into position under her forelegs. With these, after twenty-six hours’ submersion, she was pulled to the surface in a state of collapse. As soon as we got her ashore she fell exhausted on a sand bank, where she lay for an hour or so, in the meantime being massaged with cocoanut and camphor oils. She then got up and tottered off to feed. It was a year before she was fit to work, but she is living and working now.

An elephant is more liable to saddle and collar sores than a horse, and infinite care and attention have to be paid to the fit and condition of saddlery. Normally, with a dragging elephant, saddlery consists of a breast band, known as a laibut, on which comes all the weight of the drag. This is made of a nine-inch-wide plait of fibre rope, which has to be dressed continually with pig’s fat, imported for the purpose in large quantities from Chicago.

Incidentally, the Burman approves of pig’s fat for his cooking, therefore it is rendered impalatable before issue by passing a stick dipped in iodoform into each tin, thus tainting the whole.

The drag chain is connected to a loop in each end of the laibut. To prevent the chain dropping, it is passed on each side through the loops of a band, similar to the laibut, whieh is fitted across the back and over a saddle made of wood. Under the saddle is fitted a pad consisting of several thicknesses of an astringent bark which is said to have healing properties. The whole is much like the harness of a horse in a cart, the drag chain representing the traces. Some shapes of back are much more liable to sores than others, and each shape has its name. The best dragging back is the nepyauthee or ‘banana back,’ so called as it comes in a steady and sturdy curve from the shoulder to the hind heels.

Eyes, too, frequently need attention, and it is here that Western skill has improved vastly on native tradition. The old Indian mahout’s treatment for cure of cataract, for instance, involved the blowing, through a tube of bamboo, of powdered glass into the eye to break up the film. Eyes also have their technical nomenclature. The most favored is what is called a ‘pearl eye,’ which is a wide-open and intelligent eye of a bluish tint.


Mr. Defosse’s article is animated throughout with that spirit of sport which has denuded the hedgerows of France of its song birds and which brings anything feathered into the game bag. Blackbirds, thrushes, and larks are all game, and here in French Indo-China the trophyless male (as Mr. Defosse remarks, the ivory is light), the female with no tusks at all, and the baby are all welcomed for the chance of a shot. True, any elephant yields four feet which can be made into various articles, but anyone who has seen a household mausoleum, in which every waste-paper basket and umbrella stand are memorials to the dead, will agree that they do not form a trophy for which alone an elephant should yield his life.

What a slaughter of the innocents! What impulse prompted Mr. Defosse and his Belgian friend, sportsmen both, to kill five cows from a herd consisting of five cows, six immature beasts, and one young bull? They sighted the herd from their tent door, moving to a wood half a mile away, and were able to attack it from the breakfast table at a minimum of exertion to themselves. They did not, apparently, even attempt to shoot the young bull, which of all the herd could have been the only shootable beast.

Mr. Defosse describes the killing of eight bulls, eleven cows, and three calves, of which, in justice, we must assume the eight bulls to have been fair game. No elephant appears to have charged him unprovoked. Three of his elephants had been ravaging fields and were shot from a herd of four. The killing of these three might have been justifiable, but it appears to have been carrying capital punishment a little far.

Mr. Defosse describes the killing of three calves, which is quite inexcusable, judged by any standards. One his motives of humanity prompted him to destroy, as, having killed its mother, he considered it too small to look after itself. In this he displays lamentable ignorance of his game, in that a calf, when left an orphan for any reason, is looked after by the herd and, if a suckling, is taken over by a foster mother. This has happened again and again, and on one occasion in our experience a calf that lost its mother at the stage when it was being weaned was taken over by a tusker of uncertain temper, to be brought up by him. He allowed it to be suckled by a female until weaned, and so strong did his affection for the calf become that he refused to work except with the calf at heel.

The herd instinct among elephants is so strong that it once was responsible for the destruction of the greater part of a station on the Burma Railways. Some years ago a German firm of dealers in animals purchased from us a baby elephant, and delivery of the animal was accordingly taken at a camp near a railway station in Upper Burma. He was put into a car and the car shunted into the siding for the night. The calf, unused to such treatment, started to trumpet his little heart out. This was disastrous, for it quickly fetched in all the elephants in the vicinity, who began by wrecking the car, which was soon smashed into matchwood, and, having freed the calf, started on the station. Fortunately we were able to leave the German firm to fight out the question of damages with the railway authorities.

Finally, Mr. Defosse writes that ‘the extermination of the elephants in IndoChina is not likely to occur for a very long time,’ and, ‘the big giants are secure for a great number of generations to come.’ With men killing indiscriminately at the rate of Mr. Defosse and his sportsmen friends, both these statements are open to doubt. His are the views that were held in regard to an indigenous American pigeon which from moving in countless millions in its migrations a few years ago, has now become extinct through injudicious destruction. His too are the views that used to be held concerning the South African game lands which are now practically bare. But why enlarge on it? With enemies such as Mr. Defosse and his rifles, the extermination of the elephant in Indo-China is as sure as fate, and a great deal quicker.