Hearts United: The Inspiring Story of the Enduring Friendship Between a Young Vietnamese Girl and an Elephant

Hearts United: The Inspiring Story of the Enduring Friendship Between a Young Vietnamese Girl and an Elephant

These are the remarkable pictures of a young girl who tamed a fully grown wild elephant.

Kim Luan, who is part of the M’Nong ethnic group from central Vietnam, has now become inseparable from her pet elephant and the two are best friends.

It is common in the M’Nong society to tame wild elephants before introducing them to the community and keeping them as domestic pets.

The elephants are then used to work with the villagers in the fields, transporting goods and helping them build houses. 

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Kim Luan (right) plays with her pet elephant, which helps to transport goods and work the fields
The two are said to be inseparable and the old ageing elephant is happy to let Kim play around him
The now two appear totally at ease with each after Kim tamed the fully grown elephant from the wild

And Kim, 6, has grown a strong bond with the huge animal – despite the fact a single move could be fatal.

The pair are at total ease with each other and the gentle jumbo happily lets her play around it.

In Kim Luan's (pictured) village in central Vietnam, it is common for locals to have a pet elephant

French photographer Rehahn, 35, captured the heart-warming scene in Buon M’Lieng earlier this month.

He said: ‘Elephants are considered members of the community – everything related to them must follow M’Nong traditions.

‘As a foreigner I was very surprised to see this bond but for the M’Nong minority group it’s common to have an elephant in the garden – just like we might have a cat.

‘I felt the respect between both. The girl was more scared of me than the elephant.’

The photographer has lived in Vietnam for seven years, capturing some 45,000 photos of the country.

But this is the first time he has witnessed such interaction between M’Nong and their elephants.

He added: ‘It’s not dangerous for her – the elephants are peaceful until you try to do wrong with them.

‘But M’Nong live in nature with elephants and know how to keep them quiet.

‘It’s unique, plus the M’Nong don’t really wear traditional costume anymore which makes the photos more special.’

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