Pachyderm Banana Hoovers and Buffalo Sludge-Boulders – Day 7 Elephant Nature Park

Two BFF's at the elephant clinic, Elephant Nature Park.

Two BFF’s at the elephant clinic, Elephant Nature Park.

Jodi had told us that some of the elephants could be drama queens, and on this last day I got to see it for myself. I was lolling about in the dining area having my morning coffee and looking across at the elephant clinic, where there was always an elephant to be seen who lived there on a semi-permanent basis due to her need for ongoing foot treatment, plus another elephant who hung around keeping her company. Every day at ENP I had seen both of them there together. Today something caught my eye – there was only one elephant (Number 1). The more mobile one (Number 2) had gone for a wander around the back. Elephant Number 1 suddenly noticed she was gone and made a hell of an uproar! She started bellowing ‘Come back! Where are you?!’ – presumably in Thai Ele language – and kicking up a right fuss. I spotted the other one come out from around the back, and I actually saw her heave a great sigh. She took her time wandering back to the front of the clinic then trumpeted to Number 1 – ‘All right! Keep yer proboscis on, I’m here!’ They touched trunks and felt each other all over for a little while then settled back into their usual routine of, well, eating. Ah, the trials and tribulations of a BFF relationship.

I joined a few other volunteers who were looking over mahout Korn’s little wooden sculptures of his elephant friend Hope. They bought two or three between them and Korn went away to hang little bells around the necks of the statues, because Hope usually has one around his neck, and he wanted them to look that little bit more like his friend. I wandered off to the gift shop and bought myself a double statue of Medo and Mae Lanna, another of the BFF pairs in the park. Medo being the elephant my daughter would be foster-mother to for a year and Mae Lanna being the one I did ‘Oms’ with a few days before. These now have pride of place on a shelf in my Tiny House, with the blessed string I wore on my wrist at the Park surrounding both their necks.

BFF's - Mae Lanna and Medo.

BFF’s – Mae Lanna and Medo.

We were all given certificates for being volunteers and fabulous pooh picker-uppers, then many of the others (after untold swappings of email addresses and several slightly tearful farewells) got into the Park vans and returned to Chiang Mai to continue their travels. Ursula and I had chosen to leave later in the afternoon so we could indulge in our own private goodbyes to the Park.

Chet in one of his many outfits - 'Small but Spicey'.

Chet in one of his many outfits – ‘Small but Spicey’.

I spent the rest of my day revisiting various parts of the Park, taking photos, playing ukulele and purring at the elephants loitering at the feeding station, who were doing a nice job of being Pachyderm Banana Hoovers. Elephants do purr in their own unique way. They emit low growling noises, some of which our ears can’t pick up. There had been times when I had turned around to see if it was an elephant coming or a 4-stroke motorbike. Which had worked out to be about 50/50, on average.

Close-up of a Pachyderm Banana Hoover in action.

Close-up of a Pachyderm Banana Hoover in action.

I grabbed a few shots of the orchids that were stuck to tree trunks and wooden posts, other flowers in the lovely gardens they have there, and I even managed, after many days of trying, to get a photo of a butterfly doing its thing. You see lots of them around, but when you aim your camera at them they seem to magically disappear into the ether or move so quickly the camera can’t keep up. Also of interest were the aerial roots hanging down from the gigantic trees by the feeding station, some of which had been tied into knots for manageability. A sort of horticultural macrame.

Magnificent trees with aerial roots above the feeding station at Elephant Nature Park.

Magnificent trees with aerial roots above the feeding station at Elephant Nature Park.

Horticultural Macrame - aerial tree roots tied into knots at the feeding station. With shades of Pachyderm Banana Hoover in the background.

Horticultural Macrame – aerial tree roots tied into knots at the feeding station. With shades of Pachyderm Banana Hoover in the background.

In the afternoon I finally found the buffalo wallow. I had to ask a few people for directions as I had never been able to spot it, and it turned out that I had walked past it several times and not realized how close I was. Blonde! So of course I took half a million photos while dodging the soccer game that mahouts and ‘camp leaders’ were playing nearby. Mad if you ask me – playing soccer in 30 degree C heat and 90-something percent humidity? Not for the fainthearted!

The daily afternoon soccer game. In that heat? Mad I tell you, mad!

The daily afternoon soccer game. In that heat? Mad I tell you, mad!

For some reason buffalo have always fascinated me. Although not as big as your average elephant, buffalo are still a pretty impressive size and they amuse me with the ‘Doh’ look on their faces. I wouldn’t, however, mess with one no matter how vacuous they look, because they’re quite efficient killing machines when riled up. Apparently several people in Africa are slain by them each year after having gotten up their nose, one way or another. I could see why I had walked right past the wallow once I saw it – essentially it’s a great big slush puddle that the buffalo hide in, and while indulging in their bovine version of a spa, their backs are almost at ground level. They say that many of us mammals had ancestors that gradually emerged from living in water over many millennia, and looking at these particular beasties I can well believe it. They just stand there up to their necks in a muddy concoction, sort of like live, sludgy boulders with horns, with a look of complete bliss on their faces, jostling every now and again to compete for what looks like a better spot a few inches away.

This is why it took me a few days to find them - the durned things were cunningly disguised as ground-level sludge-boulders!

This is why it took me a few days to find them – the durned things were cunningly disguised as ground-level sludge-boulders!

Blissful buffalo sludge-boulders in their bovine spa.

Blissful buffalo sludge-boulders in their bovine spa.

At last though, I had to emerge from my denial and come to terms with the fact it was time to leave. Back to reality, where pachyderms are not part of the scenery and you don’t turn around regularly to see if an ele is creeping up on you, back to roads and traffic and power lines and various other dubious delights of living amongst humanity. Into the van I climbed, optically inhaling every inch of the park as we drove back up the driveway and out the gate, with only once thought in my mind – Elephant Nature Park, we haven’t seen the last of each other. I’ll be back!

Bovine lawn mowers near a pachyderm-sized scratching pole setup. Elephant Nature Park.

Bovine lawn mowers near a pachyderm-sized scratching pole setup. Elephant Nature Park.

Success at last! After a week, I finally manage to shoot a butterfly.

Success at last! After a week, I finally manage to shoot a butterfly.

Blurred, semi-successful photo of a White Flower Spider.

Blurred, semi-successful photo of a White Flower Spider.

'But I don't want to go to bed yet. If I look cute, can I go play again?' Chang Yim, still wanting to play and create general havoc.

‘But I don’t want to go to bed yet. If I look cute, can I go play again?’ Chang Yim, still wanting to play and create general havoc.

Not an elephant. One of the many critters to be found at Elephant Nature Park.

Not an elephant. One of the many critters to be found at Elephant Nature Park.

'I've just been for my mud-pack - does it make my trunk look big?'

‘I’ve just been for my mud-pack – does it make my trunk look big?’

Sitting area - part of the main building at Elephant Nature Park.

Sitting area – part of the main building at Elephant Nature Park.

Another one of the lovely gardens at Elephant Nature Park.

Another one of the lovely gardens at Elephant Nature Park.

Luckily, elephants are vegetarians. One of the Park residents, Pom, giving an ele a treat.

Luckily, elephants are vegetarians. One of the Park residents, Pom, giving an ele a treat.

One giant step for pachyderm, half a dozen steps for mankind.

One giant step for pachyderm, half a dozen steps for mankind.

A Pachyderm Banana Hoover - top view, taken from the Skywalk.

A Pachyderm Banana Hoover – top view, taken from the Skywalk.

Get your H2O here! A classic touch at one of the outside basins, Elephant Nature Park.

Get your H2O here! A classic touch at one of the outside basins, Elephant Nature Park.

Little humans with buckets swarming at the Drive In Ele Wash.

Little humans with buckets swarming at the Drive In Ele Wash.

Lawnmoweri Bovinus, Elephant Nature Park.

Lawnmoweri Bovinus, Elephant Nature Park.

One of the safety posters around Elephant Nature Park.

One of the safety posters around Elephant Nature Park.

Doh! The intelligent look (pffft!) on a buffalo's face.

Doh! The intelligent look (pffft!) on a buffalo’s face.

A lily with its pet terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusc.

A lily with its pet terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusc.

It's a dog's life! The red ribbon denotes a dog that's not too keen on being approached by humans.

It’s a dog’s life! The red ribbon denotes a dog that’s not too keen on being approached by humans.

Delicious orchids abound at Elephant Nature Park.

Delicious orchids abound at Elephant Nature Park.

Some of the beautiful gardens at Elephant Nature Park.

Some of the beautiful gardens at Elephant Nature Park.

Although they don't compare with elephants, buffalo are still impressively-sized beasties who can eliminate pesky humans if annoyed enough.

Although they don’t compare with elephants, buffalo are still impressively-sized beasties who can eliminate pesky humans if annoyed enough.

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2 thoughts on “Pachyderm Banana Hoovers and Buffalo Sludge-Boulders – Day 7 Elephant Nature Park

  1. So many great pictures ~ Love the one with the Blissful Buffalo ~ Great shot!!! To the unknowing they would think how sad it is that they are stuck in the mud… If they only knew.
    Really cool to see the stone walkway that I was a part of building. Check out my blog ~ http://travelingwithleo.blogspot.com/ – It has been quiet there for sometime – Back in Afghanistan with nothing fun to post right now. Soon to be on the move again though.

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    • Thanks Leo. It’s nice you in on making part of the whole that is ENP. Those paths are really nice. Funny how we end up going back huh…? My partner and I are booked in to return in September – we can’t wait!!

      I looked through your blog. I like that you take so many photos of everyday things you see when travelling. I forget to take pics of the metro, the tuk-tuks, phone boxes, things like that. They start to become ordinary while you’re there, then after you get home, when you see them again in someone else’s photos, they trigger nostalgia. Lol.

      Cheers for dropping in.
      Rave

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