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Futki in front of Government House, 1908 - 1912

Reference Code: GBR/0115/RCS/Y3011D/38

Scope and Contents

87 x 75 mm. Showing the Indian elephant Futki with her mahout Shiek Munshi standing on the lawn in front of Government House. The arrival of Futki in Uganda was the result of Bell's attempt to introduce transport elephants into the Protectorate. Futki, aged 45, came from Jalpaiguri in NW Bengal and arrived at Entebbe on January 25 1909. The experiment proved unsuccessful however, Futki refusing to take part in any work apart from shikar duties for which she was trained and ceremonial parades which she enjoyed. On the first attempt to harness Futki she 'suddenly swelled out her belly and, with the sound of rifle shots, most of the fine new harness burst asunder in various places' (Bell 1946, p 198). On the second and final attempt to train her for mundane tasks, Futki ran amok with the wagon and succeeded in destroying it. The high cost of Futki's feed and the wages of her mahout ('a diminutive Bengalese of aggravating appearance, and to whom I have already taken an unreasoning dislike', (Bell 1946, p 197)), together with the introduction of motorised transport eventually led to her being sold, and on March 8 1910 she boarded the S.S. Herzog en route to Hamburg Zoo. Her ultimate fate is not known.


  • Creation: 1908 - 1912


Conditions Governing Access

From the Fonds:

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (

Language of Materials


Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Good condition.

Related Materials

For further information on the introduction of motorised transport see Y3011D/31.


For a more detailed account of Futki's career together with historical background to the attempted introduction of elephant transport in Africa see Thomas, H. B. (1936), Futki and some other elephants, Uganda Journal, Volume IV, pp 151-155. Futki's story is also recounted in Bell (1946), Bell (1907) and Bell (1908).



Date information

DateText: The date is approximate..



Finding aid date

2003-05-28 16:55:01+00:00

Includes index.

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
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Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom