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Taming and Training in The Human Use of Elephants: The Case of Nepal, Past, Present and Future

By Piers Locke

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It is a curious fact that by contrast with equine studies, a field that includes extensive historical and sociological work (e.g Budiansky 1998, Cassidy 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, Clutton-Brock 1992, Derry 2003, 2006, Hurn 2008a, 2008b), elephant husbandry has yet to be constituted as an integrated field of academic enquiry. There has been little or no historiography of elephant husbandry as such, but instead a diffusely scattered range of materials in which captive elephant management is sometimes only incidental. The emphasis, approach and critical perspective in this material varies widely, including for example; collages of secondary sources on war elephants in the classical world (Kistler 2005), shifts in Enlightenment understandings of elephants from their exotic captivity in Europe (Rothfels 2008), reports of the colonial supervision of timber elephant operations in India (Sanderson 1878, Millroy 1922, see also Wemmer 1995), hagiographies of the elephant-back hunting exploits of Nepali rulers (Smythies 1942), accounts of peasant revolts concerned with elephant catching obligations in Raj-era Bengal (Schendel 1985) and Mughal-era Assam (Bhadra 1983), enumerations of Sri Lankan elephant commands (Zvelebil 1979), or studies of the Sanskrit Gaja Sastra; the Hindu veterinarian literature concerned with elephants (Edgerton 1931, Meulenbeld 2002:557-579, Wakankar & Mhaiskar 2006, Bandopadhyay & Brahmachary 1999). As such then, the history of captive elephant management is largely a story yet to be told, albeit one I have begun to develop with regard to Nepal (Locke 2008, and see also Hart & Locke 2007).


Mason N McLary

HABRI Central

Date 2009
Pages 13
Publisher University of Wales
Location of Publication King Edward VII Ave, Cardiff CF10 3NS, UK
Conference Title Anthropological and Archaeological Imaginations: Past, Present and Future
Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal husbandry
  2. Animal roles
  3. Animals in culture
  4. Animal welfare
  5. Domestication
  6. Elephants
  7. Europe
  8. Exotic animals
  9. Health
  10. History
  11. Horses
  12. India
  13. Mammals
  14. Nepal
  15. Physical environment
  16. Religions
  17. Social Environments
  18. sociology
  19. training
  20. Wild animals