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The Kedda System

The Khedda System of Catching Wild Elephants

by Vikas Kamat
Pictures Courtesy: Corbis
First Online: May 05, 2003
Page Last Updated: May 09, 2017

The Khedda system was a technique used in southern India to capture and tame wild elephants for domestic and public (like in temples, in military) use. An elaborate trap consisting of ten to twenty deep ditches, covered lightly with leaves and branches. The herd of wild elephants then was encircled with men, tamed elephants and driven to the trap with the help of loud noise and disturbance.

Once the mighty elephants fell into the trap, they were starved and injured and rendered weak. Then with the help of already tamed elephants, the untamed ones were approached, chained, and taken for training.


Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS 
Men Taming a Wild Elephant
Men Taming a Wild Elephant


Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS 
Khedda Capture SYstem
A Khedda Operation in Progress


Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS 
Elephants in a Khedda Captivity
Elephants in a Khedda Captivity

For further study:

  • The Jaganmohan Palace Museum in the city of Mysore  has an exhibit of photographs of a grand Khedda operation from the late 19th century.

  • Sanderson, G.P., AnAccount of the Mode of Capturing and Taming Elephants, W.H. Allen & Co, 1896

The Elephants of India
Indian Elephants

Herd of Wild Elephants Visiting a Water PointA Majestic Tusker in the WildThe Lone TuskerA Domesticated Elephant
The Elephant WalkFeeding the Elephant GodLogo of the GangasElephant Hunt
The Royal Elephant RideMysore Dasara ProcessionA Lone Tusker in Bandipur National ForestThe Mahut and his Pet
Elephant, Amber PalaceSculpture of Elephant in Rut

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