Friday, April 1, 2011

A walk in the park, Elephant Nature Park that is

The last couple of posts have been to report that which is less than good.  This article is about what can happen when people want to do what is right! 
Elephants being Elephants at ENP
Last week, Thursday and Friday was spent at the Elephant Nature Park.  The weather was cool and cloudy; perfect weather for photography.  The place is brimming with positive energy and the elephants are having a great time!   The people too!   My favorite 100 shots are at:

Elephant Nature Park now has two vets!  Meet Bee.  She recently finished her Veterinarian training at Chiang Mai University. 

Dr. "Bee"
Carl continues to do positive re-inforcement “contact” training.  He is finishing his time with Chang Yim and will be teaching the other mahouts the technique.  This, I believe, all started with Carol Buckley who is proving to the world that torture is not the only way to train an elephant.  Well, Lek has demonstrated the effectiveness of love since she started the foundation in 1995.  Anyway, Chang Yim is reported to be a star student.
Chang Yim and Carl 
Tilly is the newest arrival. She came to the park from the elephant camp down the road.   The story is that she was really hating the idea of getting on the truck so they just walked her up to her new home.
One of the special treats for overnight guests at the park is the morning walk.  It is truly a beautiful experience.  Friday morning was very special on at least three counts:  1st,Jodi was the guide, 2nd I got to see Ahsii and 3rd  the weather was cool and cloudy, perfect for photography. 

Jodi is a permanent volunteer at the park.  She works with the elephants, lives with the elephants and seems to have taken on the role as their social reporter.  She combines her knowledge, love for the elephants and an uncommon gift for narration to give her guests entertaining and factual information that we all appreciate and remember. All the while, with Jodi, safety is always first and foremost.  I hope you get the opportunity to do the morning walk with Jodi and let her introduce you to her huge grey friends.

Jodi with Mintra, Mae Jam Paa and Mae Dta Keow in the background
Seeing Ashii was a special treat for me. I was with the crew that went to rescue him last July and since then I haven’t been able to see him as often as I’d have liked.  When Ahsii got on the truck in Chiang Rai he was tired, sickly and grossly underweight.  Jodi explained to us that often elephant owners deliberately starve their male elephants to keep them from going into musth; that appears to have been the case with this old boy. Since he’s been at the park he’s been in musth most of the time so he has to be kept secluded.  Bull elephants in musth are unpredictable and can be very dangerous.
Mo Orr meets Ahsii the day ENP rescued him, July 2010. 
Ashii really has it pretty good these days.  He’s on a chain until the musth is over and that’s not wonderful.  However it has it’s advantages.  Fresh food is brought to him and, and I say, he has two girlfriends who stay with him most of the time.  Mae Lanna, according to reports from our social reporter Jodi, is just madly in love with Ahsii.  Medo is Mae Lanna’s best girlfriend and has chosen to make it a threesome rather than stay alone.  It looks to me like Medo is as happy as the other two.  Both of the girls help themselves to Ashii’s food and both are gaining weight right along with their beau.
Medo, Ahsii and Mae Lanna sharing Ahsii's lunch
Now guys don’t’ get too happy for Ahsii with his two girlfriends.   Mae Lanna is as tall as Ashii and he doesn’t yet have the strength to stand tall enough to mount her.  Medo on the other hand was a victim of forced breeding and has substantial back injuries.  She is not about to let Ashii, or any other bull, mount her.  

One very special sight, at least for me, is to see the big family group passing by along the river.  (Jodi explains that they are actually two family groups who stay together for the sake of the children). Either way, they are a marvel to see.

Elephants at Peace! 

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