Rajan - Barefoot's 66 year old retired Asian elephant is the last of the famous ocean swimming elephants of the Andaman Islands. He is a well known celebrity having featured in the Hollywood movie 'The Fall'.
Like most elephants, Rajan loves the water and enjoys his swims. In the past, you could dive or snorkel alongside this beautiful tusker and add that extra zing to your Andaman experience. Every year many professional underwater photographers and magazine journalists made the journey to the Emerald Isles just to meet and take the opportunity to interact and photograph this amazing swimming elephant.
We had paid a staggering sum (Rs.26 lakhs) in 2007 to rescue Rajan from being sold to a temple in Kerala. We believed that an old age spent with 10 days of ‘work’ each year (swimming) and the other 350 days spent in leisure with daily walks in the jungles of Havelock, was much better for the well being of this gentle giant than being chained to a temple wall for the rest of his years.
Rajan’s popularity surpassed our expectations. He has since worked off the money we spent rescuing him (we don’t count his annual upkeep which we are more than happy to continue to pay) by showcasing his ocean-swimming skills for divers, photographers and filmmakers. We reassessed his situation in 2014 and retired him with dignity (and debt-free) soon after he recovered our outlay on outbidding the temple to keep him in Andaman.
Rajan is now retired from active swimming duties– you can still meet him however and walk with him or bathe him (by appointment at Barefoot at Havelock Resort). You will not be able to swim with him any more, but any interaction with this gentle giant, the true icon of Andamans, is a deeply rewarding experience.