Elephant Tourism – Fun for the Family. Now Ask the Elephants if it’s Fun…

It’s not very often I write serious stuff on here, but every now and again I feel driven to do so, and I hope you readers will feel the same and spread this message around. The article below is about the Surin Roundup – an event that happens in the Surin province of Thailand, to commemorate both the importance of the Thai elephant and the local peoples’ important relationship with them. Involving 200 elephants or more, it’s large, loud, spectacular, and HELL for the elephants. Have a look at the pictures in the article, and in the links below it – the huge, sharp hooks used on the elephants’ sensitive skin, the barbed wire, the wounds marked out by a purple substance..

If you are thinking of going to Thailand, or elsewhere, and are wanting an elephant experience, please do some research and educate yourself before you do so. There are many situations involving elephants that also involve great unhappiness for them. Being made to walk on hard surfaces, being chained separately so they cannot touch each other, being hit and gouged with sharp instruments, being made to work very long hours in the hot sun, babies being made to beg rather than being at their mother’s side and suckling from her – it may be a happy and fun experience for you, but sadly it’s quite the opposite for the elephants.

One of the elephants at the Surin roundup.

One of the elephants at the Surin roundup.

A close-up of his feet. This is what they look like after he's been made to walk on hard surfaces a lot.

A close-up of his feet. This is what they look like after he’s been made to walk on hard surfaces a lot.

Healthy elephant feet. This is what his feet Should look like. Imagine his pain...

Healthy elephant feet. This is what his feet Should look like. Imagine his pain…

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Geotagging Could Help Poachers! Please Read This.

I’ve never been on safari myself, nor lucky enough to visit a country where you could do so. But I know a lot of people have, or will some time in the future. So please read this and spread it around as much as possible. Chances are, it hasn’t occurred to most people that they could be inadvertently helping poachers. The main points are:

  • If you are taking a photo of an animal that is at risk of poaching, TURN OFF your Geotagging feature
  • If you post your photo onto social media, DON’T Tell people exactly where you took it

Please Read This Article

Thank you, on behalf of all animals.

Photo courtesy of:  Arno Meintjes Wildlife

Photo courtesy of: Arno Meintjes Wildlife

 

Welcome to New Zealand – Please Don’t Kill Us!!!

Mount Ngauruhoe, Central Plateau, North Island, New Zealand. Ngauruhoe erupted 45 times in the 20th century, most recently in 1977. Now you can see why 'Lord of the Rings' was made in New Zealand... :)

Mount Ngauruhoe, Central Plateau, North Island, New Zealand. Ngauruhoe erupted 45 times in the 20th century, most recently in 1977. Now you can see why ‘Lord of the Rings’ was made in New Zealand… 🙂

We’re used to seeing ‘road snails’ travelling in our country, and although we’re really pleased to see travellers coming here, it’s common for us locals to heave a sigh when we pull up behind a ‘movan’ on the road. We know our country is beautiful, but you have to know that while you’re bumbling along trying to manoeuvre our twisty, hilly roads and look out the window at our gaspworthy scenery at the same time, it’s very possible we’re stuck behind you, envisioning various scenarios IN WHICH WE STRANGLE YOU and toss you over one of our exquisitely scenic hillsides. You see, you might be on holiday, but we’re trying to get to work, to the hospital, return our late dvds to the video store, or any other number of crucial scenarios that occur in everyday life.

New Zealand roads don’t have a lot of passing lanes, you see. So until they invent cars that have helicopter rotors attached to them, we often have to wait for many slow and laborious minutes before we can pass you and get on with our missions. And if you times that by three or four camper vans per trip, then perhaps you can begin to comprehend our strangling fantasies. It’s nothing personal, you understand, we just want you to MOVE OVER!!

What sparked this post off is that I’m subscribed to a fabulous blog whose author does hilarious cartoons to illustrate her stories, and in one of her recent posts she describes a trip she and some friends took to New Zealand, a post I’m sure travellers to New Zealand will find quite useful. You can read it here:

Renting a campervan in New Zealand: Tips and tricks to avoiding utter chaos

Upon perusing this highly entertaining post, I realised that this gave me an opportunity to pass on what Kiwis want tourists to know when they come over here. Please don’t kill us!! This was my message on her post:

 “Kia ora Vy.

Well done for choosing the South Island to go to. All us kiwis ask tourists when we see them – ‘Are you going to the South Island? You HAVE to see the South Island while you’re here, it’s the best of New Zealand scenery!!’

I’m really sorry you got a lemon camper van – this is a good thing to know, so we can advise others ourselves.

A word to tourists heading our way – there is quite a big fuss being made in New Zealand at the moment about tourist drivers. Several have caused accidents lately that have killed New Zealanders, and we’re not very happy about that. Many kiwis are calling for a special driving test for overseas tourists before they can drive on our roads. Because they ARE very twisty and narrow a lot of the time, not what drivers from countries with straight roads and many lanes are used to. There are two things us locals want you to know:

PULL OVER!! If you have three or more cars behind you when you’re driving, pull over as soon as you can do so safely. You may be on holiday, but we’re probably trying to get to work. Not pulling over can cause people to get frustrated and do dangerous overtaking manoeuvres to get where they’re trying to go. Potential accident!

If you’re tired, DON’T DRIVE!! Tiredness can lead to you pulling out into wrong lanes in confusion. Potential accident!

We love having tourists here because we’re very proud of our country and want you to see it. But please don’t come over here and kill us. Thank you, and happy holidaying.

Regards, New Zealand locals. :D”

So that pretty much encapsulates what I’m trying to say here. There are only four million or so of us Kiwis, and it’s pretty sad to think of tourists coming over here to view our gorgeous scenery and bumping off us locals at the same time. So if you’re thinking of coming our way, please try to keep these things in mind – we’d really appreciate it.

Thanks and Welcome to New Zealand. 😀

PS: If you want to learn more about our country, here’s another post of mine that will give you a bit of info. Contains photos of gorgeous scenery. Please pull over before reading…

Beautiful New Zealand – My Middle Earth and a Habitat for Hobbits

One of locals in the midst of a strangulation fantasy...

One of locals in the midst of a strangulation fantasy…

 

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Elephant Lullaby for Faa Mai – Who Snores Through It!!

Whenever she can, Lek Chailert, founder of Elephant Nature Park, sings a lullaby to Faa Mai, who was born at the park and thinks that Lek is her human mummy. From what I gather, the flapping of the rag resembles the flapping of a mother elephant’s ears or tail.

Check it out HERE

Faa Mai being told off for stealing food.

Faa Mai being told off for stealing food.

 

Forest? What Forest?! Whoops – Somebody Took It While We Weren’t Looking…

Yeah well, I tried eating people, but it just didn't agree with my digestive system...

Yeah well, I tried eating people, but it just didn’t agree with my digestive system…

Most of us humans have at least a small fascination with elephants. And most of us know that forest-dwelling elephants need forests. I bet what a lot of people don’t know is that forests need elephants.

Due to their Inefficient Digestive Systems (IDS) *TM, elephants only digest around 40-something percent of what they eat. The rest gets dumped out the opposite ends of their bodies, if you get my gist. Having personally dealt with this end product, so to speak, I can attest to the fact that the matter that they have put into their chewing ends comes out darned near as fresh as when it went in. In other words, seeds from the plants they have eaten remain pretty much intact and are deposited wherever the elephants go, in nice tidy fertilized packages, ready to grow again. Continue reading

For Your Entertainment: The ‘Kiwi Accent’ from a Foreigner’s Point of View

Here’s a great blog post written by a young American woman who’s experiencing New Zealand. In this post, she discusses the ‘Kiwi accent’. It’s hilarious to read how we sound to other people.

Read her blog HERE

The North Island of New Zealand (Middle Earth) with directions on where to find stuff.

The North Island of New Zealand (Middle Earth) with directions on where to find stuff.

Happy New Year and Some Elephant Gossip

Gather ye around and I'll tell ye the latest...

Gather ye around and I’ll tell ye the latest…

Hi all. I haven’t posted for a little while as we’ve been pretty busy around here with the silly season and all that it brings. I want to wish you all a Happy New Year, or Joyous Pagan Festivities, or whatever peels yer bananas.

To those in America and England, I’m sorry to hear that you’re rather cold at the moment, so I won’t rave on about what a perfect summer we’re having, as I sit outside on a beautifully starry night enjoying the wee solar lights and the humidity – that would just be cruel and I won’t do that to you. Nor will I mention the plums and avocados raining down upon us on a daily basis or Rustle the Hedgehog snuffling about feasting on them or indeed the Zinnia and Cosmos flowering madly outside my bedroom window. Far be it from me to tease you in such a hard-hearted manner. Continue reading

Photo Essay – A Week of Volunteering at Elephant Nature Park. (Contains Many Photos and Much Waffling.)

A baby banana-hoover learns how to do it.

A baby banana-hoover learns how to do it.

September 2013 and I was at it again. I traveled back to Thailand and instead of wallowing at beach resorts and quaffing drinks with little umbrellas in them, returned to Elephant Nature Park, a sanctuary North of Chiang Mai, and volunteered my sweat and gave myself some blisters to remember. This time I went for two weeks instead of one, and also hauled my partner along so he could see what I had been rabbiting on about for the last year or so. Here’s a photo essay on being an ENP volunteer.

Firstly, this is where we slept. We were surrounded by Australians, so we dug in, marked our territory and guarded it fiercely. It was a great spot – it had a huge veranda outside, complete with guard dogs and several cats, and our room had a bed with mosquito nets, an open-walled ensuite, a tiny frog and a gecko. Unfortunately, it was situated up some stairs. Fourteen steep stairs to be exact. I know this. I counted them at the end of each long, hot day. Fooouuurrrteeennn of them…

NZ territory - right smack in the middle of Australian territory.

NZ territory – right smack in the middle of Australian territory.

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A Journey with 4 Legs – Short Film

Hi all. Hope your day is going really well. 🙂

Here’s a really nice short film on Elephant Nature Park and the other projects Lek Chailert has put into place in South East Asia. Take a look – it’s very inspiring.

A Journey with 4 Legs (Save Elephant Foundation)

One of the beautiful eles at Elephant Nature Park, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

One of the beautiful eles at Elephant Nature Park, Chiang Mai, Thailand.