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Wednesday, December 05, 2007


The statistics in Asia are alarming.

Only about 40,000 survive today. Previously, Thailand alone was home to 100,000 of them. We are taking about the trials, travails and the sheer survival of the Asian elephant. The picture remains grim as human population grows, forest cover is lost, elephants are taken out of their habitat, their trails blocked, their tusks hunted, their life reduced to that of a 'working animal.'

It's a story that was brilliantly narrated by Jin Pyn through her charming book and video.

Now, that story has another worthy addition. This time through a compelling picture book by noted photographer Palani Mohan.

In the foreword to the book, Jason Gagliardi rightly sums up the story as he points out:
"It’s a love story, and a war story, a history of animosity and attraction, a study of shattered symbiosis.

For all through Asia, it seems, a love-hate relationship thrives where elephants and humans co-exist. Even as we venerate this mighty beast, we also abase him. These pages will lead you on a voyage of discovery: the elephant as pan-Asian icon, as faithful companion, as beast of burden, as free spirit, as deity, as protector of the herd, and as lonely nomad. Enjoy the book as a bravura display of the photographer’s art. Be moved by its chronicle of the heartbreaks and epiphanies of an endlessly fascinating and troubled relationship. Above all, treat it as a call to action, so that the title might serve as a rallying cry, rather than become the epitaph of a truly amazing animal."

Palani Mohan shot Vanishing Giants (2001-2006) in the streets and jungles of twelve countries. The series received the second prize in the nature category at World Press Photo in 2006.

He was born in Chennai, India, and moved to Australia as a child. His photographic career began 20 years ago at the Sydney Morning Herald and since then he has been based in London, Hong Kong, Bangkok, and now Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. His work has been featured in many of the world’s leading magazines and newspapers. Vanishing Giants is his third book.

Read and see more of his work on his website.

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