National Geographic News


This four-year-old female will spend three days and nights in this cage. She will receive little food or water and be deprived of sleep while enduring regular beatings. The goal is to make her a submissive working elephant.

The elephant is chained and hobbled; spears are used to make her raise her feet on command and villagers force the elephant to accept people on her back for the first time. This elephant will probably end up in the tourist trade; elephant rides are popular among travelers to Thailand.

The phajaan is a time of constant fear and pain for young elephants. It is probably the first time this young female has been separated from her mother.

Photograph by Jennifer Hile

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