War elephants are still used by the Kachin Independence Army in Myanmar

War elephants tend to conjure up Iron Age battles, those archaic campaigns in which hordes dismembered other hordes with arrows and blades. They were exotic cavalry for long-dead empires: Carthage and Macedon, the Mughals and the Khmer.

But there is one corner of the planet — and only one — where war elephants persist into the 21st century.

That place is Myanmar. Not central Myanmar, where selfie-snapping tour groups get herded through golden temples.

War elephants trod through a more forbidding patch of the country: the northern Kachin State, where modernity is held back by war. There, in remote hilltops abutting China, mankind’s 4,000-year-old war elephant tradition is kept alive.

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