ASSAM -A US based animal welfare advocate has joined Indian wildlife lovers in paying tribute to a giant 73-year-old retired working elephant who died earlier this week in India. Joyraj, a majestic 3.35m tall elephant had lived and worked in Kaziranga National Park, in Assam state. Keepers at the park said other elephants had also mourned Joyraj. Elke Riesterer told the BBC: “There was a great soul residing in that massive grey body.”

“I was very fond of this elephant and I am grieving over his death,” Ms Riesterer said. Kaziranga National Park lies 220km (130 miles) east of Assam state’s main city of Guwahati. Mohan Karmakar, Joyraj’s “mahout”, or keeper, told the AFP news agency on Wednesday: “He was the darling of Kaziranga for decades and I could not stop crying when he breathed his last this morning.”

“A number of other elephants nearby were trumpeting loudly and had tears rolling down their faces - a sight best seen than told,” Mr Karmakar said. Joyraj worked at the Kaziranga reserve for 65 years until he retired in 2008. His main task was to transport tourist into the jungle and give them the opportunity to see the resident rhinos and other animals.