Elephant Valley Project-Mondulkiri
Trip Start Jan 31, 2013
8Trip End Apr 17, 2013
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This is why the project needs money- firstly to look after the elephants. But the project is more than just a sanctuary for elephants. It does amazing work with the locals. For example: the owners will come and live on the sanctuary with the elephants where they will be trained to look after their elephants in the correct manner
In addition the project also does whatever they can to help the local community. For example: land registry project. The people form the cities have come up and just tried to claim land in Mondulkiri that has always been owned by the Banong people. After the Khmer Rouge- all paper work was lost, including land entitlement papers. So now the rich people form the cities have come up - burnt land parts of land, grown crops and then claim that eh have owners the land for years. They pay people in go cement off to give them the documentation and then that's its- the poor Banong people loose their land. So the EVP is currently in progress of helping the locals put the land on their names. It takes money to do this. And they ar helping. So there are loads of community based projects like this that ey do and for the they need money! And that is where the volunteering comes in.... We pay money which goes towards caring for the elephants as well as all these additional projects.
A typical day starts off with a 6:30am wake with breakfast being served at 7
Generally half the day is spent watching, feeding, bathing and walking with various groups of elephants and the other half is spent spent volunteering. My session of volunteering was amazing yesterday. We were tasked with cutting down banana trees and the chopping them Up into pieces that the elephant can eat. It was pretty cool cos we knew exactly which elephant was going to eat the banana trees that we cut as one if the elephants injured herself whilst scratching her bum on a tree- so needed to be moved closer to us so they could keep an eye on her and give her her medication.
Next day volunteering was ho'Ing between the banana trees- this entails cutting out the weeds and grass from between r banana trees so they don't suck up the moisture that is needed by the banana trees during the dry season. I found another 'Ho' ....my roommate- Abbie to help out- what a great ho she is- I mean- she ho'd so well:)
Next day was spent levelling out the foundation for a room they were building
Next day Abbie and I made some 'no smoking' sign for the general areas... Was fun but I can quite clearly see I have bugger all artistic talent in me:) but was fun...
Now - about the elephants.... I fed them, I washed them, I hugged them, I kissed them, and I watched them for hours. They are such graceful animals - it's quite sad to think that humans quite be so cruel to such big animals and get away with it. I've learnt so much at the EVP sanctuary. All those elephant rides that we go on.... Have we ever stopped to think or examine if the elephants r treated well? I learnt a few things.. Like.... Look at the elephants spine? If u can see it and the ribs are well below the spine, that means the elephant has had to carry so much weight on its back over the years that its entire rib cage has been pressed down!!!
And the scars on their heads??? Mahouts thought the only way to direct an elephant was to jab a metal spike to its head...
The good news is that these people r doing an amazing job!!! They have transformed this province. Te elephants r happy. The locals r happy because of all the visitors coming to visit the sanctuary... The sanctuary is renting he land from the local people, they employ the locals in the sanctuary - either are mahouts, cleaners, tour guides, construction workings- it's amazing- they have just created a completely circular trade economy whilst looking after the elephants.
What's quite amazing is that this was all done by a now 30years old Englishman called Jack Highwood. He moved to Cambodia when he was in his early 20's but only started this when he was 24.....
What did you (and I) do between 24 and 30?????
Anyway- was a great week with the elephants- had fun- met some great people whom will be meeting up wi again later on my travels....
Over out kids....
Tomorrow off to Vietnam to meet James:)