|I can lift my leg if I need medical attention|
|Hundreds of elephants work in Jaipur|
|Fer and Elephant Man|
|I can't feed her fast enough|
|Missing part of her leg from a trap|
|This orphan has no tail and uses a switch to rid flies|
The sanctuary is trying to desperately educate the locals to not shoot an elephant on site when they start causing damage to their crops. The creatures don't mean to cause destruction, they are looking for food and shelter that is rapidly decreasing. Often elephants will end up in banana groves or durian plantations and farmers will shoot to scare or stop the elephants from destroying their crops.
In the 25 years of volunteering The Elephant Man says 600 elephants have been rescued, relocated or sent to zoos for protection. It is no easy feat to capture an elephant. Often the brave men are in the jungle two weeks tracking a herd to move them to safer ground. Once the elephant is found, the real job begins. An elephant must be shot with a dart from close range. It will be shackled and then given a drug to revive it. The men must remain close to make certain the elephant doesn't injure himself trying to escape and often a drugged elephant will charge out of fright. One Ranger was trampled to death, trying to save an elephant. The elephants are moved via trucks and boats to a nature reserve but at times, have died from the stress of the long move. There is no easy answer on how to safely and quickly move these 5,500 kg beasts. Some of the elephants are tracked with devices but they are costly and the centre doesn't have the funds to track them all.
|$100 Ringitt per day to feed her|
The mature elephants are paraded out for a tourist performance but the show isn't what you would expect. The elephants are showing stunts they must learn to receive medical attention or jobs they do in the rescue of other elephants. The mature elephants are working elephants and help in the rescue and recovery of the wild elephants, providing comfort and guidance to the newcomers.
The centre lets the tourists have a quick ride but not in a basket. You are riding bareback which is more natural. If you really want to get down and dirty with the elephants, the handlers let you wade into the river and play with the elephants, scrubbing and getting splashed. It was great hilarity to see everyone having so much fun. The elephant seemed to enjoy the attention and the cooling of the water. For me, I kept my distance because I know how much elephant dung was in the river!
As soon as the show was over, the tourist buses were packed and on the road. That left Fernando to clean elephant dung and to prepare the bottles for the orphans; once these babies get the hang of eating, there is no stopping them. We were covered in milk, dirt and flies so we quickly grabbed a shower at the facility and went to a local eatery to have fried bananas, ice lemongrass tea and watch the local girls cast shy glances our way.
It was a once in a lifetime event for both Fer and I. We were hot, sweaty and dirty but we couldn't stop smiling. Elephants have been brutalized over the years from circuses, movies, zoos and working in logging camps. While tourists (like me) think it is fun to take their photos or ride on the elephants, there are very few places in the world that are trying to save them and not benefit from the money they bring. Granted, there are many destitute people that wouldn't survive without using the elephants as their only means of income.
|Having fun splashing the tourists|
If you are able to volunteer or contribute equipment such as milk, bread, waterproof cameras (so the rescue can be documented the entire way), prosthetics, food or anything the centre is in need of, please contact the number below, or email. The Sanctuary, while it won't turn away money, prefers tangible goods as money must go through hoops before it reaches the elephants.