Mahout is a Hindi word with Sanskrit origins, which literally means “one having great measure”. This term was introduced to describe a keeper, trainer and rider of an elephant. This is a family profession where young boys are assigned their own elephants to whom they remain bonded throughout their lives.
In India, there are traditionally three types of device that mahouts use to control their elephants: the thotti (a 3.5-feet hook which is 3 inches thick); the valiya kol (a 10.5-feet pole); and the cheru kol (a short pole).
Elephants have always been essential to India’s economy and politics. They traditionally work for the forest service and logging business. Elephants are not the easiest animals to tame so mahouts sometimes get attacked by elephants whom they hurt or torture to make them obey.