Here are the elephants we hung out with over 3 days this week at the Elephant Valley Project in Sen Monorom (the capital of the Mondulkiri province), Cambodia. All of them have unique personalities and stories (hope I’ve captured them right!) so I thought I’d give them cartoon incarnations. For detailed descriptions, head over to my friend’s blog that relives the wonderful three days we had as volunteers at the project.
Here they are … The lovely elies of Mondulkiri:
Milot and Moon – The elephants we spent the most time with, bathing and feeding them over two afternoons. Milot is a really gentle elie whose legs are often in a curtsy. Sheis blind in her right eye because when she was used for tourism, her mahout poked her on the right side since he’s right-handed, to maneuver her. She is too skinny so she’s fed banana tree trunks to work up an appetite.
Moon also fancies those delicacies! And dirt. As soon as we bathed her, she poured dirt all over her back and head again, as if she’s never been washed. Sigh. Moon is the only elie who is still loved by her owner who is currently spending a month with her while her other mahout is away. Her owner and Moon are about the same age, they grew up together so there’s this very special bond between the two.
Onion – There’s a dent on her forehead, a healed wound from when her owner drilled a stick into it to act as controller that would drive her left or right. The pain was excruciating and the wound was infected when EVP rescued her. Apart from mental wounds suffered also from her hard working life, Onion is now grieving the demise of her beloved partner, Bob, the only male elie the EVP ever had. She is way below her healthy weight of 3 tons, so she’s been fed with lots of pineapples and bananas to get her healthy again.
Geenowl and Easy Rider – These two also hang out together. Geenowl is the tallest elie at EVP, which picked her up after her owner couldn’t afford to pay the compensation demanded by farmers whose farm Geenowl had destroyed after running away from her owners. She is identified by her badly compressed ribs from carrying massive loads. Easy Rider is a short but confident elie, who naturally takes over the leadership position between the pair.
Ning Wan, Mae Nang, Ruby and Pearl – These four are like the ladies of Sex and the City, quite inseparable. Sometimes you wonder if they’re gossiping while chewing on fresh grass! Ning Wan is owned by 11 Bunong families and came to the sanctuary after being retired from work. She is the matriarch of this herd. Mae Nang is the oldest elie at EVP. Although 64 this years, she still behaves like a teenager and loves jumping into the river to play with water.
Ruby is the smallest elie at EVP who came to live at EVP when her owner found it too difficult to walk long stretches of road in order to bring her to the nearest forest in the aftermath of uncontrollable deforestation in this region. Pearl is the youngest elie at EVP who came to EVP because her owners no longer wanted her nor the kind of work they did with elephants. Pearl hated to come to EVP, wouldn’t walk 100 meters before trying to turn back homeward-bound. It took the team a week to get her where she is now, after plenty of bum-kicking. Good to see that she’s settled really well into this family now! ❤