Indian elephant prefers swimming trunk to trunks

14th Jun 2013

India's promotional push for the jaw-dropping Andaman Islands is being spearheaded by a 64 year old weighing nearly four tons - who uses his trunk as a snorkel.

Rajan is believed to be the world's only elephant to swim in the sea - off this idyllic archipelago in the Bay of Bengal.

Not that these heavenly islands cannot sell themselves.

Their alabaster-white beaches and unspoilt coral reefs entice sun-loving holidaymakers on specialist tours in search of relaxing swimming and watersports such as snorkelling and diving.

With more than 200 islands to choose from, visitors on family holidays can enjoy rainforest discovery tours as they channel hop.

Wildlife includes deer, shrews, exotic birds, crocodiles, and, of course, Indian elephants such as Rajan.

Rajan, taught to swim to haul logs out to boats off the islands, has become an unofficial Andaman Islands public relations figurehead in his retirement since the practice was outlawed and he was replaced by motor boats.

Today he swims just for fun and loves nothing better than taking a dip with diving tourists.

Austrian photographer Wolfgang Zwicknagl said it is amazing how good a swimmer this huge animal is, adding: "He moves perfectly, using his trunk as a snorkel."

He said while elephants love a dip in the river, Rajan is the last and only one who swims in the ocean.

Rajan, who was brought into freedom five years ago, would otherwise have been sold to a temple in south India.

Coyright Press Association 2013

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