A few notables…
These trees are all cement that have been textured and painted to look like tree branches. It is very beautiful and pictures do not do it justice! When everything is dry, they scatter planters of flowers throughout the structure. I could stare at these for hours.
This is Bella, our one night slumber party companion and our deck chair resident. Sweetest.dog.ever.
This water buffalo was making the silliest sound. Jodi is able to repeat it right back to her! 🙂
Today is our last day at the park. I’ll especially miss my two favorite VCs, Jane and Aek (both males). These guys are great! And believe in the cause for the elephants.
Jodi offers to take us on our elephant walk in the morning as she does for all the 2 week volunteers. This is always such a treat.
First we say hello to one of my favorite pairs, Jokia (50 yrs old) and Mae Perm (65 yrs old). I know I have told Jokia’s story many times but I will tell it again. Jokia is one of the first 5 elephants that was rescued at ENP when the park first opened in 2003. She is blind in both eyes by the hand of her mahout (prior to rescue) as a form of punishment for being ‘difficult’. Jokia had been working in a logging camp and was pregnant at the time. She gave birth while working but was not permitted to see her baby immediately after. As a result, her baby died – as a mother, Jokia would have broken the sac and ‘kick the baby to get it to start breathing. Jokia became very upset and depressed and would not work. Her mahout speared one eye. She remained depressed for many more days and still refused to work. Her mahout slingshot her other eye. When Lek happened by Jokia, she saw that Jokia was blind and questioned the mahout why she was still working. The mahout said she was still able to work. Lek bought her immediately as part of her first set of rescues. Mae Perm had also been rescued days earlier and Mae Perm immediately befriended Jokia. Mae Perm has become her ‘eyes’ and they are never far apart. If Jokai chirps or trumpets for her (though she does not overdo this, she is quite independent), Mae Perm immediately rushes over to her and touches her with her trunk to let her know that she is there. Although I feel awful for the loss of Jokai’s sight, particularly because of the way it happened, it is a relief to know that of all an elephant’s senses, eyesight is by far the worst. Their sense of smell and feel for vibrations (they sense this through their feet) are the most finely tuned of their senses and the ones they rely on the most.
Mae Perm walks right up to me to say hello, she has the reputation of being the friendliest, easiest to approach, kindest of all the elephants. She is awfully sweet… ♡.
Here is a quick water buffalo crossing. There are a lot more this year with quite a few births… because some of the bulls escaped castration or the castration didn’t take.
Next stop is Yindee’s (1 1/2 years old) family group. Yindee’s mother, Mintra, is 18 years old. She has two dislocated hips from being hit by a car while she worked as street begging. It is amazing to me that she was able to have Yindee let alone walk. I am very happy for her. Yindee has 2 nannies each with a landmine injury on their back legs, but ine has it on the right hind foot and the other one on the left hind foot. Their name are Malai Tong (30 years old) and Porn Suan (20 years old). Porn Suan is the super-I’ll-kick-your-ass-if-you-even-look-at-Yindee-funny nanny… she adores him. Yindee also has 2 grand nannies and they are both blind. Their names are Jam Pang and Jarunee. Yindee spends his time playing and checking in with all his nannies. He does get play time with Dok Mai since they are so close in age and size. I found out that Navaan no longer gets play time with Dok Mai or Yindee because he is older (at 2 yrs and 4 mos) and too big and a bit rough. I feel bad for Navaan as he probably needs a playmate and I wonder if this restriction would occur in the wild. But I am sure the park has given this careful thought.
We then move along to the family herd of Faa Mai, Tong Jan, Mae Bua Tong, Dok Mai, Dok Ngern, Faa Sai, Sri Nuan,…
Here is little fatty Faa Mai.
Dok Mai approaching innocently to say hello…
We see Faa Mai with her mom, Mae Bua Tong, and the herd seem content to wander around fairly close together. Mae Bua Tong comes right up to me… I have always thought she is such a good mother.
Still a little busty from nursing Faa Mai.
Faa Mai goes to Mae Bua Tong to try and nurse. Not sure if she is too old for this, but Mae Bua Tong never pushes her away.
Faa Mai then decides to wander off on her own. True to form, just as she did 4 years ago, she is breaking fences ! ♡ 🙂 She seems quite pleased with her work.
I love the super tall bamboo umbrella structures built to offer some shade to the elephants.
We notice some elephants in the river that are not associated with ENP and Jodi suggests we get closer to have a look so that she can give us some insight. This group adventure is call “Woody’s Elephants”. Although they do not use trekking contraptions, the elephants are still used for riding on the elephant’s neck. There are no hooks but the guides do use nails to “control” the elephants as I actually do witness at that moment 😦 One of the elephants is still quite small, it seems like she is only 10 or 11. This breaks my heart to see that elephants are still objectified for human entertainment.
We make a quick stop at Jodi’s hut and I admire her beautiful chicken!
Our next stop is Khun Dej and his family. The happy ending in this trio is that Dani’s daughter (about Saree’s age) and her baby boy (would have been Khun Dej’s age) were both taken away from her prior to ENP. She was a very sad and lonely elephant. She now has Saree (female) and Khun Dej (male) that have sort of taken the place of her lost family and she is now thriving again. ♡
Khun Dej is 3 years old and his name means “warrior” or “knight”, which is very well suited to him since he has been through so much. He was discovered by the Thai Prime Minister’s daughter, NuNa, who is greatly supportive of Lek’s work. Khun Dej was originally found in the jungle with a badly healed, serious injury to his front left foot. It is assumed that it got caught in a wire noose snare. The are was being kept in for 2 years lost its funding so Khun Dej ended up at the government hospital. He was chained around his neck because they could not get it around his damaged foot. NuNa brought him to Lek. When his mahout quit, they could not find anyone to take care of him. Khun Dej does not belong to ENP but he will live at ENP forever because of his injury. His new mahouts (they care for his adoptive sister, Saree, and his adoptive mother, Dani) are Thai Karin which are (typically) the best mahouts.
Here, Saree plays with Khun Dej so lovingly.
Khun Dej has sad, thickly lashed, beautiful eyes but he seems happy with his new family.
I buy a wood carving of Khun Dej from the mahouts.
I cannot remember which one this lovely lady is… but she eats just the leaves of the corn stalks since she is quite old and it is difficult for her to chew. It is amazing to see how flexible and adept she is at tearing just the leaves off one by one and collecting a good sized mouthful before she actually puts it in her mouth.
Next we see old Mail Tong eating pumpkin… which is sort of hard for to chew.
Me, Sabine, Jodi and David (Japanese born Chicago-ite — very nice and funny) make her peanut butter, banana and steamed pumpkin sandwiches… which she does not like at all. She either takes the sandwich and tosses it aside, or she moves her trunk away from the hand fed sandwich. The sandwiches are to help her gain weight. She had a blood parasite and the medicine to treat it wore her out. She has really slowed down, but given her age, 60-65, she is doing relatively well. Still would be nice to fatten her up a bit though.
After lunch, Sabine, Jodi, Dave, Nel (super sweet, intelligent, hardworking vet student from Australia) and I do the enrichment for all 3 of the bachelor boys. Hope’s caregiver, Chai Ruk, helps out as well although he frequently does enrichment on his own for Hope. He’s a very hardworking and thoughtful guy.
This is the set up for Tong Suk and Chang Yim:
Tong Suk seems to be enjoying it.
This is Hope’s set up:
He enjoyed knocking everything down and then eating it! 🙂
Sabine and I just finish the enrichment and it is time to leave ENP….
Next stop? warm shower….! More to come…