Port Blair: The story of Rajan, India’s best-loved swimming elephant, and his tryst with fame started in 2004 when he was left on the island after a film shoot. It is heard that the filmmakers did not have the kind of money to help him return to the mainland. A local resort, Barefoot, took him under their care.
His mahout, Nasru, and he soon became a major attraction with visitors to the island and the resort. News reports have come in saying that Rajan, now retired, passed away sometime on Sunday night while grazing in the jungle. He was 66. Known to be a gentle giant, he was very popular with children.
He has been captured by several national and international media and documentary filmmakers as the last swimming elephant! Rajan returned to the news when his new owner tried to sell him off to a temple in Kerala for Rs 24 lakhs but the resort interjected and ensured that Rajan stayed, happy and free, in the Andamans.
Rajan had been swimming with tourists and scuba divers and children, raising enough money for his welfare and contributing to the economy of the island.
Former Director of Barefoot Scuba posted the sad news on his Facebook wall, “Rest in peace, Rajan. Thank you for being part of Barefoot Scuba, and for your part in making Havelock Island so incredible. You will be missed and never forgotten.”