30 September 2014 — Friends, Fences and FUN!
We have been having so much fun here at BLES, with all the rain storms and muddy puddles. The Gossip Girls never fail to enjoy themselves, rolling and sliding, squeaking all the while, in the warm, wet, glorious mud and watching them play so freely never fails to make those of us that are lucky enough to watch them smile. Those three beautiful elephants are such a huge inspiration. As individuals, they have each overcome pain and abuse that we can only imagine, and have found it in their hearts to trust humans again and even like us again. As a group, seeing them, so constantly and physically close to each other, always reaching out, gently touching and reassuring each other, in the most gentle and loving way, is one of the most genuine and beautiful things I have ever witnessed.
Mee Chok has been up to his usual antics and causing mayhem amongst the Gossip Girls and Boon Thong at every opportunity! It is absolutely delightful to see Mee Chok charging around, stealing the ladies food, pushing over trees, kicking up the dirt and acting like he owns the place! Just a few months ago, he was an angry, confused little bull, in huge amounts of pain, due to breaking his tusk and getting an infection in the open cavity. It is mind blowing to think that just three months ago, he was recovering from major surgery… you would never think it now! Mee Chok is 5yrs old and everything a little elephant should be. He is boisterous, loud, loves to run around and is adored by his surrogate sister and mother, Lom and Pang Tong. When I watch Mee Chok, I always take a minute to really appreciate how very special he is. BLES is a small sanctuary that always puts the welfare and happiness of our animals first and foremost. When Mee Chok wants to charge around and have his moments of madness, we allow him to do just that. There are very few establishments that can offer this level of freedom to elephants. Not just freedom to run and vent, but also the freedom to express himself and to be a little unruly, a little out of control and a lot like a little wild elephant.
Here at BLES, we do not need to worry about crowds of tourists, standing in the way, getting injured or causing stress to our elephants, by encroaching on the elephant’s space. As a true sanctuary, we limit the number of people staying at BLES to six and always ensure our visitors understand that the elephant’s needs come before theirs. BLES is a fairly new sanctuary. We are only seven years old and have worked non stop to create a safe, secure, peaceful and loving environment for all the animals that come into our care. BLES is a space of complete physical and psychological protection, providing opportunities for individual animals to develop their independence and self authority.
We are now trying to take BLES to a new level and we are eager for all of you to be a part of it! Long time friend to BLES, Carol Buckley, has founded a new organisation called Elephant Aid International (EAI). EAI has pioneered fences for elephants throughout Asia and has had huge success in India and Nepal to date. EAI wants to reach out and help the elephants of Thailand and BLES has embraced the initiative, welcoming Carol and her expert team to create night time habitat areas for our rescued elephants. During the day at BLES, our elephants roam freely through the (nearly) 600 acres of forested land that we have been able to preserve for them.
Up until now, BLES has had no other choice but to secure our elephants during the night. To date, we have done this using one long, ankle chain (20 meters in length). Every night our elephants are walked out deep in to the forest, where the mahouts find a suitable location for the elephants to spend the night. An ideal location has thick and fresh natural foliage, will be of fairly flat terrain, have pockets of water, offer plenty of shade and will be spacious enough for the elephants to remain with their friendship groups.
Most of the land neighbouring BLES is privately owned and farmed. If our elephants were to wonder on to this land and destroy the farmer’s crops, the farmers would not hesitate to destroy the elephants in return, by shooting or poisoning them. Last year, we were called out to help a farmer whose five adult cows had been poisoned. Sadly, by the time we arrived, all the cows were dead. The farmer explained to us that his cows had trampled over another farmer’s rice field and had demanded thousands of Baht in compensation. The cow farmer had refused to pay the compensation and so the rice farmer retaliated by killing the cows. None of us like the thought of an elephant being secured with a chain around it’s foot, most of all, us here at BLES. However, hopefully you will now be able to understand that the only reason we have used a chain is purely for their safety.
BUT, BLES now has a hugely exciting opportunity to offer absolute freedom to our elephants, by working together with Elephant Aid International and creating chain free night time habitats.
The chain free night time habitat areas at BLES will include concreted metal corner posts, metal fence posts, topes (full post protectors), six strands of wire, insulators, emergency shut off switches, power indicator lights, solar panels, energy storage batteries and energizers to run the fences. Each elephant will have one acre of space, so The Gossip Girl’s enclosure will be a generous size of three acres.
Offering absolute freedom, such as this, does not come cheap. BLES is aiming to raise 10 000 USD by the 4th October 2014. These funds will pay for the materials needed to create the fencing and we need your help to achieve this!
When the 10 000 USD is successfully raised, BLES Founder, Katherine Connor and BLES Treasurer, Evelyn Connor will celebrate and show their gratitude, by being elephants for the day!
To be specific — Wassana and Pang Dow! Katherine and Evelyn will roll around in the mud, get hosed down, throw dirt over themselves, soak their feet in the streams and squeak and trumpet the day away, but ONLY when the 10 000 USD is raised! We will post a video of our ele antics, to prove we always stay true to our word and are already taking tips from the wonderful Wassana and pretty Pang Dow themselves!
Please join us on this ground breaking initiative and be a part of giving Wassana, Pang Dow and our other elephants at BLES complete and absolute freedom. We can not achieve this without financial support from all you elephant lovers around the world. Please show your support by donating today and help us finally remove the night time chains.
Trunks of thanks for your love and support,
Katherine and the elephants xx