Rajan, the adorable pachyderm who was one of the most famous residents of the Andamans, passed away whilst grazing in the jungles of Havelock Island.

Havelock Island’s Barefoot Resort was Rajan’s home for the last twelve years of his life. He first came into Barefoot Resort’s possession when he was left sick and stranded on Havelock in 2004, and his owner couldn’t pay for his shipping.

He rose to fame when he featured in the 2006 Hollywood film The Fall, directed by Indian-American filmmaker Tarsem Singh. Known as one of the most visually adept contemporary filmmakers, Singh featured Rajan in a five minute scene, carrying one of the characters to a far-off island. As instruments fill your ears with a soothing concerto, Rajan is seen slowly wading through the water, his five ton body appearing feather-light. (See here)

Rajan’s life story since the movie has been a topic of much documentation. After The Fall brought the world’s attention to Rajan, a temple in Kerala was eager to buy him, and even offered 24 lakhs. However, Barefoot Resort didn’t let go of their beloved elephant, and instead took out a loan to grant his freedom.

Impressively, Rajan and his mahout Nazrool succeeded in raising most of that money themselves, since they were a major attraction for tourists frequenting the island. His swimming skills garnered him a lot of praise and love, and more than one of his videos went viral on social media. Rajan was previously hired to move logs from the coast to boats in the sea.

Like most other mammals, elephants are also very good swimmers. In fact, it is believed that the elephants found in Sri Lanka today are ancestors of Indian elephants who swam their way to the southern water-locked nation. However, Rajan’s passing also marks the demise of the last ocean swimming elephant in the Andaman Islands. Earlier, elephants swimming in the clear blue waters off these islands were a common sight. However, with the modernization of transportation, training elephants to swim is no longer considered economically viable.

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