All 6 eles meet in the forest
By Leah, USA
My very first hike to visit the elephants was a really exciting one for long-term volunteers and newbies alike. We were treated to what I’m told was a relatively easy hike—most of the steep inclines were on a nice dirt track, and the parts through the bush were pretty level—with good visibility and fantastic weather. Upon locating the elephants, we got right to the delightful business of feeding them bunches of bananas we’d brought. It didn’t take long before they had polished them off and were snuffling around for more. When they realised there were none, they moved off and began browsing nearby.
Within a couple of minutes we heard some other large animals tramping toward us through the forest off to our right. It was San Jap and Mario (the Conservation group elephants), who had presumably caught wind of the banana feed. At first everyone was a bit startled because the team had never observed the two groups interacting in the forest, and San Jap and Mario didn’t have a mahout with them to help divert them if things got tense. After a few low rumbles among the elephants and a bit of sniffing around, Thong Dee and Boon Jan moved on into the forest a bit. Mah Nah, Bpee Mai, San Jap and Mario stayed behind in the clearing. The two youngsters seemed to really be enjoying playing around together, and their mothers stood calmly off to the sides.
Eventually the elephants moved on, and we hiked back to the village, everyone chattering excitedly about what we had seen. Little did we know that we would get a repeat visit from San Jap and Mario the following day too!