Every morning at the break of dawn, Zaw Win and his team herd their elephants across the sweeping forest floor down to the riverbank. They scrub and clean the mighty mammals before harnessing them to begin their day’s work. Zaw Win, a third-generation oozie (Burmese for “elephant handler”) keeps a close eye on his animals – which are his livelihood.
Decades of military dictatorship has meant that many aspects of Myanmar are frozen in time. One of those traditions dates back thousands of years – the timber elephant.
But will the elephants and their handlers, who have survived kingdoms and military dictatorships, survive democracy and the open market? Is there a place for them in a changing modern world?