The EVP is located in a tropical jungle valley in Mondulkiri in the north east of Cambodia. It has plenty of lush green plants and trees and 2 streams, perfect for making mud and everything that an elephant needs, thus the name, elephant heaven or the elephant santuary as it is locally called.
Elephants need to coat themselves in mud in order to protect themselves from mosquitoes and other insects. This mud has to be washed off regularly to prevent the growth of bacteria. Most of these elephants have been domesticated from a young age and thus never learned to wash themselves, thus washing the elephants are one of the tasks of the project.One of the elephants was a tourist elephant and was thus never allowed to be dirty. These days she makes quite a business of making a nice muddy paste and bathing herself in it.
|Happy lucky coating herself with mud|
The EVP has rescued 10 elephants to date. They have many human traits: Bob and Onion are a couple. Onion adores Bob and follows him everywhere and he just goes about his day and is a bit indifferent to her (typical, isnt it??). Below are Bob and Onion, never apart, even while being washed!
|The other four are a bit of a clique and treat
the newcomer, Ruby, with some bitchiness. Then the other 4 are made up
of a granny elephant of 62 years, a stupid elephant and one who is the
brains in the group. These elephants have mostly been bought from their
owners. A few are rented when they are too expensive and the owners get
money every month. The EVP also employs people in the banana
plantations and in the back packers lodge. They provide funding to the
children's hospital and finance some of the village kids to go to
school, thus they are dependant on the money from volunteers who pay to
visit there and work there as well as donors. |
Happy Lucky scratching her ass
|Ning Wan's nest: the name of our bungalow and also the name of one of the elephants|
Over the course of a week we joined the mahouts in walking and washing them and spent hours observing them and sitting watching them and feeding them bananas. After a while it became quite boring and we opted to do some volunteering. This included cutting the dead leaves from banana trees, weeding the path they are making for the villagers to use in the monsoon (back breaking work in the hot sun with a ton of ants and mosquitoes around) as well as carrying bricks and stones for the construction of more bungalows.
|One of the lounges at the lodge of the Elephant project|
|Sunset in Mondulkiri|
Its been awesome Asia, but we are now quite ready for South America!!!