To tame an elephant does not mean to dominate an elephant with physical fear. A skilled mahout uses verbal commands and positive reinforcement to forge a lifelong bond between themselves and their elephant partner.
The tradition of passing elephant ownership down from one generation of father to son still occurs in many parts of Laos today. Ceremonies between young sons and young calves are vital in strengthening the bonds and trust both will experiences together for the rest of their working lives.
Elephants are an extremely intelligent species and will learn up to 40 complex commands from their mahout throughout their life. Below are just a few examples of the cultural ceremony that occurs between generations of men and elephants.
Click here for photos and information detailing mahout culture in Laos between humans and elephants.
Click here for photos and information regarding elephant in Lao culture.