Lifescapes Gallery

9 / Sep / 2009
Why did the Elephant go to the dentist?
Makhna, Kabini Photograph: Jayanth Sharma Story: Rajesh Ramaswamy

Why did the Elephant go to the dentist?

Because he wanted a new set of teeth. Because he was a Makhna, and didn’t have those gleaming dental showpieces that his more favoured cousin, the Tusker, flaunted with such panache. And, living as he did, in a biosphere with the largest concentration of Asiatic elephants in the world, the comparisons loomed large and with irritating regularity. Especially galling was the fact that Makhnas like him were in a minority, and wherever you looked, the eye beheld Tuskers sauntering along, swinging those curved ivory scimitars. Our Makhna knew he was bigger. He was stronger. He had a much larger skull. He even had a more muscular trunk and could use it to lift heavier weights and show off to the girls. Perhaps even uproot an entire Flame of the Forest tree in full bloom and go courting his current flame. But then, he couldn’t flash those shiny incisors at will. Perhaps that’s what made him a touch grumpy at times. Or, perhaps, it was just all those silly elephant jokes.

We at Orange County have loved sharing this story with you, and shall bring you one every fortnight, as part of our Responsible Tourism Initiatives to raise awareness about the nature and culture of the environments we operate in.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 9th, 2009 at 9:30 am and is filed under Mammals . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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User Comments
  1. S. Devanand says:

    Talk of jumbo two-getherness! A great moment captured beautifully by the photographer. The copy is packed with heavy-duty humor as usual.

  2. Nagashree M.B says:

    Gauri: Ordinary picture? this is a master piece. Excellent write up too

  3. Vikram Nanjappa - Chief Naturalist Orange County Kabini says:

    Mr. Hegde is right, in Sri Lanka the Tuskers are in a minority. However in India, In the northeastern states the ratio of tuskers to makhnas is roughly equal, but in the south tuskers outnumber Makhnas.

  4. Kiran Hegde says:

    The tuskers in Sri Lanka might be wondering what am i doing with these strange protrusions as the percentage of Makhna’s is very large compared to the tuskers.

    I wonder why do the African Female Elephants have tusks and the asiatic ones dont?

    Nice Article…keep in going!

  5. Jose Ramapuram, Director - Marketing, Orange County Resorts says:

    In response to suggestions from Rama Gopalakrishnan and other readers, we thought that it was high time that we gave the devil his due :). Rajesh the editor is not only one of the key drivers of Project Lifescapes, but also a good friend of Orange County.

    From the comments below, we realize that at least two of our friends have learnt of the existence of Makhnas. Lifescapes is alive and kicking :). In the coming issues, in keeping with the Lifescapes philosophy, we will also be bringing you snapshots of the cultural landscape around our locations, narrated by Rajesh in his inimitable style. We hope you will enjoy them as much as you have enjoyed the stories about birds and animals.

  6. Aishwarya Mohan says:

    I did not know about the existence of “Makhna” till now. Thanks guys for adding to my knowledge. I also did not know such a short story could bring such a big smile to my face. Thanks again guys for making my day. I plan to be there v soon with my family and hope to meet these beautiful birds and animals that I have been reading about. :))

  7. Nandakumar says:

    Sorry, Lifescapes…not Landscapes

  8. Nandakumar says:

    I was blissfully unaware of the existence of ‘Makhnas’ or tuskless bull elephants, till I saw this write-up. Landscapes has been an eye-opener in this regard. The photograph is excellent. Thanks again, and of course the dentist story was a creative way to highlight this endangered species.

  9. Vikram Nanjappa - Chief Naturalist Orange County Kabini says:

    Dear Mr.Nair,
    Thank you for taking the time to make comments like these that motivate our team to keep bringing you these stories week after week. I would however like to make a small technical observation on your comment – Makhnas do have teeth, they just do not have Tusks. Tusks are actually second upper incisors. Lower second incisors, in elephants, disappear early without erupting. Female Asian elephants, unlike their African counterparts, do not have Tusks. However some of them do possess tiny tusks called “tushes”, which can just be seen protruding from the lip, especially when the trunk is raised.

  10. Vipin Parikh says:

    Very Good and enjoyable. Shows innocence and affection.

  11. Gauri Warudi says:

    Thoroughly enjoyable! making an ordinary picture, an extra ordinary tale…:)

  12. Jessica Borges says:

    A feast for the eyes. A feast for the mind. I’ll definitely be coming back for more! Congratulations to the Orange County team for great work that compliments a great cause.

  13. says:

    Lovely photographs; all of them so far. and very relevant too. Being associated with orange county, right from its inception, I am ver happy and proud too that the Organisation is truly committed to social causes, keep it up!

  14. Rama Gopalakrishnan says:

    Dear Orange County Team,
    Week after week I am enjoying your pictures as well as the write up by Rajesh Ramaswamy. Thank you for taking up my suggestion to give due credit to the one who writes and edits which makes the photograph linger in your memory for longer.
    Rama Gopalakrishnan

  15. Diwakaran Nair says:

    This is a beautiful article and the most outstanding picture. The description reminded me of my old grandfather in Kerala, who became more grumpy as he lost his teeth, and depended on his dentures, which we used to hide. But we children loved him despite being grumpy, and i feel the same way about these makhnas, even though they were born without teeth. I know it is dangerous, but reading this and seeing the lovely photo makes me want to go and hug them.

  16. P D Bajoria says:

    Very rarely one gets his eyes to feast upon such picture. I will be very much obliged if you send me all pictures from your archive, thanks

  17. Gauri Mahale says:

    Dear Sir,
    Thank you sending me all those beautiful pictures. My husband and I enjoy seeing them. Hope you’ll send us more and more pictures. I have saved all the pictures in a new folder.
    Thank you again

  18. Pramod KG says:

    Though its a beautiful snap, accompanying Essay makes it more appealing. Instead of supplying the fact files (which may be boring for many of the viewers/readers), this is a better way to attract the attention of the public into nature related issues and themes. Keep up the GREAT work.

  19. himani mehta says:

    details & stories are a welcome to attractive way of promoting our sweet old elephant who has to compete for us”tourists” to protect them & our biosphere.

  20. Swaroop Rao says:

    The essence is in the photoessay. The photo, by itself, would have been less powerful without the accompanying essay. The smoothness with which the essay moves from being informative to humorous was very refreshing.

    Keep up the great work, and I hope you keep unearthing a great combination of photographers and photoessayists (if there is such a term).

    Swaroop Rao

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