Mahouts and Elephants

PhotographerStefan Kuehn
PrizeHonorable Mention

Industrialization put most mahouts and their elephants out of work. Being a mahout is a family tradition in Thailand and already their fathers were mahouts Commonly the symbiosis between a mahout and his elephant lasts a lifetime. Both are growing up and will be getting old together and both depend on each other to survive. So what can be done, if there is no other work than just being a tourist attraction? The Elephant Conservation Centre in Lampang is a sanctuary for mahouts and their elephants. Instead of trying to earn a living by being a photo attraction in Bangkok's polluted air and getting crippled elephant feet caused by hot tarred roads, they are allowed to live a live, that ist worth living. They live in an environment that is adapted to the needs of elephant and mahout and allows them to live in their traditional way. Mahout and elephant duties vary from therapy elephants for autistic childern up to a mahout course for tourists who are willing to invest in a three full day training to learn more about the giants themselves and the way how to work with them. So both, elephant and mahout are getting back their dignity and are allowed to live as near their traditional live as possible.

About Photographer

Even as a child I loved playing around with all types of cameras. A passion emerged from a dark room in a cellar. Since then I have specialised in fine art, people, wild life and nature photography. Even though I focus predominantly on the photography of fine art and people, I have already been fortunate enough to carry out various projects in Africa and Asia for the benefit of aid and animal protection organisations.