Elephants Right Tusked or Left Tusked?

“Tusks are used for lifting heavy trunks of trees, we read that in books,” screamed the children in delight seeing the elephant with a log on its tusks. We were at Dubare Elephant Camp, Coorg, 273kms from Bangalore. It is famous for training the elephants for Mysore Dusshera festival.

I always had a very bad opinion about elephant camps, having read about how elephants are trained to please tourists. So I wasn’t sure what exactly I would get to see in Dubare elephant camp. Once I got there my whole opinion about such camps changed. It was vacation time and many children were seen visiting the camp. Plenty of mahouts managing the elephants and the atmosphere there had no signs of fear!

At the camp we witnessed the bathing of elephants. Children too participated in splashing water on the elephants. The elephants too sprayed back as if participating in a game.

Elephant tusks
elephant tusks for lifting loads
This tame elephant was trying to pass the log between two logs of a cabin which caged a rogue elephant. After one log was fixed, it would pick up one more fix it in the next slot. The whole cage built by the elephants there taking turns.

What got me interested was their working style. The way the elephant was picking up the logs and inserting them between the slots with precision. Like how human beings are left handed or right handed, elephants are either left tusked or right tusked. And the dominant tusk or the preferred tusk, also known as master tusk is usually shorter of the two. Seeing the tusks of the elephant I could not make out whether it was right tusked or left tusked, but from the way it was pushing the logs from right to left, I felt this elephant was left tusked. The entire weight of the log seemed to be on the left tusk.

What do you think?

Elephants Right Tusked or Left Tusked?

(Please click on image for a better view.)

elephants right tusked or left tusked

I have known them to use their tusks as weapons against predators like lions and tigers or against other elephants to establish supremacy. The males have bigger tusks probably to attract the interest of female elephants. For the first time I was seeing a working elephant. Seeing it to pick up heavy logs. I took several pictures but kicking myself for not having taken a video.

One of the key differences between African and Asian elephants is the tusks. All African elephants, male and female, have tusks whereas only some Asian males have tusks. About 50% of Asian females have short tusks known as tushes – which have no pulp inside.

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55 Responses

  1. Juliana RW says:

    Nice shots of the elephants

    My entry this week: in HERE. I hope that you can stop by as well. Thanks

  2. Russ says:

    Wow, what strength!

  3. Ribbon says:

    Hi I just had a visit with elephants today too at a local zoo.
    They are sooo beautiful and how I wish that I could know one and have the loving relationship that you see a lot of carers have with them.
    They’re amazing.
    Great photos and I didn’t know about the tusks.

    best wishes Ribbon

  4. Beautiful creatures! I hope they are thanked for all their hard work!

  5. Snap says:

    Elephants are so smart. One of my favorite animals. We could learn so much from them.

  6. Sylvia K says:

    What marvelous shots, Indrani! Beautiful elephants — somehow they always look so wise to me. I do hope, like Deborah, that they are well thanked for their hard work!

  7. i beati says:

    astounding pictures and story

  8. jinksy says:

    Majestic animals with a fascination all their own…

  9. chrome3d says:

    So the elephant made a log cabin for itself? It looks pretty big. I didn´t know that about the right and left tusks. Fascinating.

  10. Oh the things your eyes have seen! I will never see an elephant like that. What a sight!

  11. Minie says:

    beautiful shots of elephants. happy weekend.

  12. Misty Dawn says:

    YAY – he’s a lefty like me! I never knew that they were right or left tusked – what an interesting piece of information! Thanks for teaching me something today!

  13. Minie says:

    beautiful shots of elephants. happy weekend.

  14. Dianne says:

    wow!! I learned something new about elephants today, thanks

  15. Nice! who can imagine that these helpers of humans can also cause damage and destruction, as in Gardenia’s garden.

  16. Anya says:

    An elephant is fat and strong,
    His trunk is very, very long 🙂

    That man with the camera
    makes a cute picture.
    The elephant has his mouth open
    and the trunk right in the air.
    I like that, its funny 🙂

    Great shots,
    from the strong hard workers;)
    Life is not always easy,
    especially for an elephant.
    He must work hard for the people;)

  17. Manz says:

    Terrific photos.
    And what a surprise to find out that they are left or right tusked – I see I’m not alone in that by reading the comments 🙂

    Seeing it was hard to pick if this one was left or right… maybe it’s ampidextrious…? 😉

    *****

  18. James says:

    very interesting. I didn’t know that.

  19. Dora says:

    Yes, from the pic, in think it is left tusked.

  20. J says:

    I never knew that either. And yes, he definitely looks left tusked. Must’ve been great to watch.

  21. Oh I know elephants are huge and strong but why do I feel bad seeing them carrying heavy logs? 🙁

  22. namaki says:

    hello ! First visit to your blog and I love that article about right or left-tusked elephants !

  23. wow i wish i could ride on in an elephnat someday

  24. What an incredible animal, the elephant. Brave, smart and strong. We should take better care of these majestic creatures.

    Thanks for your visit to my chicken post. lol very different subjects elephants and chickens! 😀

  25. Karen says:

    Great photos !!!

    I didn’t know that elephants had a dominant tusk. Interesting information, thanks for that !

  26. Reader Wil says:

    What a great post for CC! Thanks for sharing!

  27. magiceye says:

    that was an interesting bit of information about elephants being left/right tusked!
    lovely images too!

  28. Lakshmi says:

    :)its time I went to a jungle

  29. Very interesting post, Indrani. Elephants are such amazing animals!

  30. travelmuse says:

    Great information, and fabulous shots.

  31. Kendris says:

    Wonderful shots! Thanks for sharing them and the information…I never even thought about elephants being left or right tusked!

  32. Pietro says:

    Beautiful post, Indrani. These images are really nice and interesting! 🙂

  33. I think it should be left tusked, as you suggest. I have always wondered – they are so huge and powerful, and still are domesticable animals! But there are some wild animals around Ranchi that are running all around the place killing people and destroying crops it seems! That has even become an election issue!!

    Destination Infinity

  34. George says:

    I had no idea that elephants were right tusked or left tusked, but I guess it makes sense. You got great pictures of the elephant at work.

  35. thyme says:

    The left tusk looks like it is a bit closer to the nose, so putting weight on it would cause less imbalance on the elephants head. That might be why he prefers it to the right tusk, so he would be left-tusked. Interesting question and curious phenomenon.

  36. Maggie May says:

    That’s amazing. Wonderful creatures, so powerful and yet so useful when they are trained.
    Lovely post.

  37. Rajesh says:

    I never knew about the elephants being left and right tusked. The pictures are great and it is a nice cage built by an elephant for the other.

  38. Bengbeng says:

    an amazing fact..left handed n right handed elephants… so hman jus like us. btw i am left handed for most stuff but been culturally trained to write , eat etc with my right hand..more acceptable 🙂

  39. Elephants are amazing critters. I just saw a short piece on them last night on TV about how smart, caring and strong they are. Too bad poachers kill them for their ivory tusks.

  40. well, the answer to the question are both tusk. i think the elephant do understand that it is better to use both of course with the help of friendly humans.

  41. Jeevan says:

    It sounds interesting both the tusks and cage fixing. The first elephant looks such brave, and it pride for us to have these specie’s.

  42. Kat says:

    mmmm…. I think just as we shift a heavy weight while carrying it between our hands, the elephants too alternate the carried matter, between their LHS and RHS tusks.

    Got to check this out from a pachydermentologist.

  43. Nabeel says:

    I remember once my dad took me to the zoo and I got to ride an elephant, along with other kids. There was a huge basket like seat on its back. I also fed it a peanut … or something.

  44. ArtSparker says:

    The elephant in the stockade makes me sad. Interesting about the left tusks and the right tusks.

  45. They are amazing creatures. Their movements seem so precise…very mesmerizing!

  46. Spectacular clicks of the elephants… hope they’re given the treatment they deserve :’)

  47. Interesting read. I read somewhere that African elephants cannot be easily domesticated as they do with Asian ones

  48. Maniparna Sengupta Majumder says:

    One of the most intelligent and strong animals…nicely written with beautiful shots… 🙂

  49. sujith says:

    I never knew that elephants can be left tusked or right tusked. Thats a new information for me. Thanks

  50. Mridula says:

    I have been to Dubare too but I still feel elephants are meant to be wild!

  51. Intelligent animals.. Kind ones too

  52. Interesting!! Elephants are Royal Animals…i love them.

  53. I don’t like the way they are treated and use for money 🙁

    They are too sweet to be tortured

  54. such a Haathi mere saathi moment 🙂 such precision in their job. You have captured this beautifully too 🙂

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