BLES is a Blessing!
I had the honor of visiting Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary (BLES) recently. My first couple of attempts to write this post were total failures. I had written way too much for a blog. Having said that, I would invite those interested to spend some time on http://www.blesele.org/ Photographs from our trip are now posted at http://s935.photobucket.com/albums/ad200/jnelson1944/BLES_20101001/
Thanks to a couple of my face book friends, especially Mo in Australia I became aware of Katherine’s extraordinary project as BLES was rescuing Pang Dow. This one really grabbed me and I decided that I had to go meet this elephant. You can read her story at http://www.blesele.org/elephants/pang-dow Her recovery continues.
(The spots are a skin condition that is being treated)
Maliwan and I took a bus from Chiang Mai to Uttradit where we were met by the driver from BLES and taken to the sanctuary. BLES has three little guest houses, one of which was our abode for two nights. It was wonderful. I really love the serenity. No TV, no radio, no phone, just peace and quiet. We stayed two nights and then were given a ride back to the bus station. While we were there we were fed three meals a day and the food delicious.
BLES is different. While there are facilities for a very limited number of guests, BLES is not a tourist camp, not at all. It’s a sanctuary for elephants. Most places arrange their venues to attract the tourist which is fine, especially if the elephants are well taken care of and the tourists are educated. At BLES it’s all about the elephants. A guest would ask Katherine if they could swim in the pond with the elephants or ride an elephant and her response would be something like “Do you really think the elephant would enjoy that”?
Because these elephants are in training to be returned to nature, there is a minimum of human contact. Twice a day they go on their walks where they forage for their food. It’s remarkable to see them out in nature, just being elephants.
This is good!
Mare Boon Mee is in her 80’s. She spent some thirty years without other elephants in her life. As a result she doesn’t spend much time with the other elephants, preferring to stay alone. She is a very sweet gal who immediately became Maliwan’s favorite.
Mare Boon Mae and Maliwan
Pang Dow is very special. With her damaged ankle, her skin condition and her history of abuse she is still one of the most loving creatures I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. I wish I had pictures of her the day before she was rescued so I could show you a bit of her history.
Pang Dow on her walk
On the other hand, I’m glad I don’t have pictures of her before she was rescued. It’s time to concentrate on her new life. At BLES she is loved and will be allowed to live her days in peace and dignity.
|Pang Dow & Pang Suai|
|Pang Suii, Jerry and Pang Dow|
I promised Pang Dow that I’d come visit her again. It may be several months, but I will keep that promise!
I went to visit Pang Dow and while I was there I found a new appreciation for elephants and the people who really love them. Katherine and her staff at BLES do a remarkable job. Please support them in any way you can.