25th May 2014, Yamuna River, New Delhi, India. Elephant handlers scrub an elephant and chat as it bathes under a bridge in the Yamuna river in New Delhi, India on the 25th May 2014. The river is terribly polluted and deemed only fit for industrial cooling, the elephants cannot drink it
Elephant handlers (Mahouts) eke out a living in makeshift camps on the banks of the Yamuna River in New Delhi. They survive on a small retainer paid by the elephant owners and by giving rides to passers by. The owners keep all the money from hiring the animals out for religious festivals, events and weddings, they also are involved in the illegal trade of captive elephants.The living conditions and treatment of elephants kept in cities in North India is extremely harsh, the handlers use the banned 'ankush' or bullhook to control the animals through daily beatings, the animals have no proper shelters are forced to walk on burning hot tarmac and stand for hours with their feet chained together.
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