Tong Jai was rushed to the elephant hospital in November, after we noticed blood dripping out of his trunk and a dramatic change in his behaviour. Anon of course travelled with Tong Jai and stayed faithfully by his side during the three month stint in Lampang, ensuring Tong Jai had enough to eat, was walked and bathed daily and was warm enough during the chilly nights. Tong Jai’s condition has gone from strength to strength during the past three months. He has had good days and then very bad days and it has been an incredibly worrying time for us, not knowing the real cause of Tong Jai’s decline and not knowing if he would ever be strong and healthy enough to come home. Despite extensive tests performed by the veterinarians at the elephant hospital, including x rays, an endoscopy and regular culture and blood tests, the cause of Tong Jai’s sickness is still inconclusive. At first we suspected a fracture in the tusk cavity. We have also wondered if Tong Jai was suffering from a fungal infection or a sinus issue… Whatever the origin of Tong Jai’s weakened state, the good news is that he seems to be over it all now and is at long last, home.
We welcomed Tong Jai home with a buffet of sweet and soft fruit as well as some chopped up banana stalks, which he slowly enjoyed. As we sat watching him, with smiles on our faces, Anon and I agreed Tong Jai looked relieved to be back at BLES. Both Anon and I would like to express our deepest thanks to Dr Tom and all the vets at TECC, plus all the mahouts stationed at the elephant hospital too. Everyone went above and beyond to ensure Tong Jai was comfortable and well taken care of and we are so grateful for the understanding and level of care shown to our old tusker.
Somai, our other old bull, is back to being in the full swing of things again. He is joining Pang Tong on the walks, has energy, is eating well and thanks to a new shredded food diet, Somai’s dung is much healthier and he is defecating normally. Again, it is a huge relief to see Somai out in the forest, surrounded by his family group, Pang Tong, Lom and Mee Chok and thankfully, the fears we had of losing our sweet old Somai, are now a distant memory.
December and January are the coldest months here in Sukhothai, with temperatures dipping as low as 9.9 degrees during the nights. Thankfully, BLES does not need to worry about our Elder elephants – Naamfon (63), Boon Thong (late 60s), Somai (68) and Tong Jai (70) feeling the cold, because some of our wonderful supporters have grouped together to have professionally and beautifully made jackets especially for our lucky elephants! The coats are perfect. They are made to measure, are water and wind proof, quilted and light weight. They have two tummy straps, as well as a chest strap and each one has proved successful in keeping our elephants warm and cozy during the cooler months. The coats have been made by The Goat Coat Shop and this thoughtful project has been headed by elephant lover Gert Zagler. Thank you to everyone who has donated towards the jackets for our elephants, they are very grateful!!!
It has also been incredibly dry this year and with no rain expected for the next two/three months, we are concerned about sourcing enough supplementary food for our twelve rescued elephants, until the rains come and the forest starts to flourish again.
The Gossip Girls have been interacting with Naamfon some more, but Lotus still seems reluctant to allow Naamfon in to their group permanently. Pang Suai and Pang Noi have been watching the dramas from the bushes and it seems they actually feel sorry for Naamfon! They have started hanging around her a bit more during the walks and although there hasn’t been any direct interaction yet, we are hoping they will start to befriend each other and form another threesome at BLES!
Boon Thong, our adorable little old lady, stands alone, watching the other elephants as they try to ascertain who is in charge and who will be friends etc.. She is happy, living in her peaceful world, with no one to bother her or steal her food (although Mee Chok and the Gossip Girls have been known to do this from time to time!!). Every time one of the elephants approaches Boon Thong, she moves away from them, making it clear that she does not want to be friends. Her best friend is her mahout, Phi Chad. Under his nurturing care, Boon Thong has gained weight and again, her dung is much healthier than when she was first rescued.
BLES takes in every animal in need and already this year we have been inundated with dogs and cats needing our help. One of our visions is to open a fully functioning clinic for the small animals in the community, providing free medical care, advice, sterilisations and creating an awareness for a more humane way of life for cats and dogs. Our local community is rural and poor. The farmers here do not have the funds to treat their animals when they get injured or sick and also do not have the resources to take their pets to the closest vet, which is a 45 minute drive away. The cats and dogs of Thailand deserve our care and love every bit as the elephants do. True, they are not endangered but the fact of their domesticity and reliance on humans makes them just as vulnerable. The BLES Cat and Dog Home (BCDH) is desperately needed and wanted, but we currently have zero funds in place to create such a facility. We will be launching fundraisers throughout the year and partnering with other organisations to establish BCDH further. If you would like to help us with a small donation now, to help us care for the 20 dogs and 40 cats currently in our care, your support is very much appreciated. You can donate via our website You can also follow all the daily happenings of our small animal rescue work on Facebook
February is already here! Once again I ask for everyone who has already made a booking and sent a deposit to please get in touch and reconfirm via firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that BLES is now fully booked through to March 2016. Please do not get in touch enquiring about bookings during this period, as we have clearly stated on the calendar, here, on our FAQ page and home page, that we are FULL.
On that note, I would like to thank you all for taking the time to read my journal and show an interest in our work. Please feel free to share our photos and links, to help raise awareness around the world. You can all be a part of the movement towards a more loving world for the animals. We are their only hope. We must not stop campaigning and voicing their cause. The animals are relying on us to protect them and provide them with sanctuary and I am so grateful to each of you for joining us, to help make just a small ripple in the ocean for the animals here in Thailand.
If you need a gentle tool to help educate others about the cruelties elephants face, why not share this link to a segment recently produced by Earth Touch News
Trunks of thanks and love to you all,
Katherine and the elephants (and dogs, cats, pigs, cows, tortoises and turtles!!) xx