On land, he lumbers through the dust, bowed by the burden of his 3.5-ton bulk.
But in the ocean, Rajan is an elephant transformed: The cumbersome trundler becomes a creature of spellbinding speed and elegance.
His huge frame is seemingly weightless as he surges through the water, his tail streaming behind him and his trunk poking out of the water like a periscope.
And underwater is the only place you can view the bottom of this animal's four enormous feet -and live to tell the tale. Rajan is a retired logging elephant who spends his days on the beaches of a remote island in the Bay of Bengal.
As these striking images show, he loves nothing more than to venture into the sea. The pictures were shot by wildlife photographer Steve Bloom in the Andaman Islands and appear in his new book, Elephant!
Recalling his experiences, Bloom says: "Rajan appeared in vivid detail, legs kicking wildly, trunk waving madly, all in a swirl of giant bubbles. Yes, elephants do fly, and Rajan was coming straight for me!
"He seemed to erupt with joy as he bounded up from the ocean bed, which dropped away from his feet amid exploding clouds of fine sand.
"For a while I was transported into an exquisite, dreamlike world, where elephants are weightless and dance a kind of surreal ballet. Rajan, liberated from his enormous bulk, explored his own free spirit."
Rajan was capable of being dangerous but Bloom believes he went out of his way not to harm him.
"During the many sessions we spent together, we learned to swim in tandem," he says. "At times I swam extremely close to him and could see the warm glint in his eye.
"With one swift turn of the head, he could have struck me with his giant tusk and killed me.
"I am, however, convinced that he recognised me, and took great care to ensure I was not harmed, often turning away to avoid a collision."
Animal instinct … Belle the beagle with her grateful owner, Kevin Weaver.
By, Leef Smith (Washington Post)
June 21, 2006
BELLE Weaver has flown to Washington to receive an award for saving a family member's life. Before leaving town, she met her congressman to accept a certificate and a medal.
Stories such as hers, of heroism and quick thinking, are always inspiring. But this one has a twist: Belle is a beagle, and she used her owner's mobile phone to call 911.
Her owner, Kevin Weaver, 34, was in the throes of a diabetic seizure, lying unconscious on his kitchen floor in Ocoee, Florida, when Belle located his phone and chomped down on the keypad, triggering a call.
Emergency dispatchers could hear only barking, but that was enough cause to send help, they reasoned. Mr Weaver, a former flight attendant, woke up hours later in the hospital, weak and disoriented. Belle was by his side, having finagled a ride in the ambulance.
On Monday, Belle will be the first animal to receive the VITA Wireless Samaritan Award, presented each year by the CTIA Wireless Foundation, which honours those who use their mobile phones to save lives, stop crime or help in other emergencies.
The foundation's executive director, David Diggs, said that although mobile phones could be irritating, "the safety benefits that this technology has brought are immeasurable".
Doctors told Mr Weaver that had Belle not intervened before his flatmates arrived home, five hours later, he probably would not have survived the seizure.
"I would have slipped into a coma and died," Mr Weaver said.
While on a flight, a passenger suggested to Mr Weaver, a life-long sufferer of diabetes, that Belle be trained as a medical assistance dog.
During her training Belle was taught to lick Mr Weaver's nostrils to smell his breath, reading his ketone level. If something is not right, Belle knows to start scratching Mr Weaver's leg, warning him to adjust his sugar levels before a seizure comes on.
For a worst-case scenario, Belle was taught to bite down on Weaver's phone - specifically on the 9 key, which had been programmed to dial 911.
The training was expensive, about $US9000 ($12,200) for nine months of intensive schooling, but it was worth every cent on the morning of February 7.