Adventures with Elephants
Army Research Office
Elephant are used as modes of transportation for humans and materials. For this activity, an elephant saddle is utilized. Most often saddles are made of foam covered with canvas and are attached using girths around the elephant’s torso. These saddles are heavy, absorb lots of water, and can be uncomfortable for the rider and for the elephant. In order to improve the experience for the rider and the elephant, a new saddle must be developed. The saddle needs to be firm, but flexible and soft, so that it will mold to the elephant’s back. The saddle cannot have any pressure points, causing discomfort for the animal. It also needs to be rugged, durable, lightweight, flexible, and waterproof. The girths used to keep the saddle on must be thick so they will not cut the elephant’s skin. A quick fastening and adjusting mechanism that can be easily removed is desired. The fastening mechanism must be able to withstand water, mud, grass, and dust, and can safely hold 500 kg. Rider safety and comfort is also paramount. Straps and handles must be utilized so the rider can hold on for the duration of the transport. The saddle must also raise high enough so the rider’s legs are not stretched too far, but the saddle cannot become top heavy.
Design and develop a saddle that will accommodate 3 riders that provides a comfortable and safe experience for both elephant and rider, and is thus more advantageous than current designs in terms of rider comfort, elephant comfort, durability, and easy removal. The saddle must be able to be 100% made in Africa, so it must be made from African-sourced materials using manufacturing techniques available in Africa.