Burma image, WA1423. Elephants on Putao road.
Photograph taken by James Henry Green in Kachin Land, Burma (Myanmar) in the 1920s.
The explorer and soldier Captain F. Kingdon Ward described an encounter with working elephants in what is today Kachin State as follows: "All round us as far as the eye could reach was dense forest or high grass and scrub. The big elephant, an enormous beast from Assam, found it difficult to get through in places, and the mahout [elephant driver] was sometimes threatened with decapitation by the branches of trees. However, seated on Jumbo's neck with a foot behind each ear, he guided the wise old beast skilfully, and the pair of them provided us with plenty of amusement, especially the small Hkamti animal, who always insisted on rising while he was being loaded. 'Bat! Bat! Bat!' screamed the mahout, as the kneeling elephant, with half his load on his back, leisurely proceeded to stand up; then he would slowly sink down again and allow the men to put some more on him. In the hilly country, however, the elephants only proved a nuisance, moving with extreme slowness; indeed the big animal became almost useless, so thoroughly exhausted was he, and at one time we quite thought he was going to die by the wayside." ['In Farthest Burma', F. Kingdon Ward, London, 1921, pp.228]