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Saving The Elephants Of Sumatra

We move the villages one after one other, with the stone masons, the wood carvers, the silver smiths and the painters’ galleries in between. We climb hills and descend; we move streams and ravines and glide by the inexperienced, mesmerizing, rice paddies. There is harvested rice strewn about drying in the solar and competing for space with the dogs that snooze lazily on the roadside. Rice stems twitter in the breeze, ready to be picked, whereas new seedlings are scattered into the muddy discipline by the fingers of the previous bent figures. Life in full cycle. Temples and cremation ceremonies, folks in their finery pass us like a fabulous walking canvas. The canvas of life.

We slow down once we reach the park where an indication reads: Elephant Crossing. Walking by way of the gates to the museum that displays an array of attention-grabbing exhibits from ivory carvings, to tusks, to a full dimension mammoth replica, which has been purchased and brought from an Ice Age exhibition in the USA, you might be left with no doubt that elephants are the primary attraction here. A huge skeleton of a 30-year-previous Sumatran elephant within the foyer greets us. Enlarged billboards scream about the atrocities achieved to elephants, with photos of useless elephant bodies: for what For greed, certainly not for want.

Very Polite Elephants
Considering my experience with Pogli, I am not sure I want to meet the elephants however Iwan assures me their elephants are very tame, polite and civilised. Having seen uncivilised elephants, I’m not convinced but I quickly change my mind.

Elephants that may paint, do arithmetic and play basketball are civilised, if not a little showy. One elephant paints with a brush in her trunk, then demands totally different colours though she is nearly colour blind. Three elephants in a row on a raised platform parade with their tails in one another’s trunks confidently strolling the catwalk. Another solutions the question to 2+1= ,by picking three from the hand of the ringmaster. Then she is off to slam – dunk the ball into the basketball hoop while her pal kicks the football however misses the goal. See, they’re not good. But it is showtime and the elephants appear to love being the centre of attention.

Building Consciousness
My guide, Ketut Nursyarifah, the assistant park manager, tells me the aims of the park are to provide a venue for consciousness about elephants, educating tourists and giving them a first-hand, close encounter with elephants.

We undergo a beautifully-designed landscaped garden. All the things is nicely balanced and blended naturally into the jungle ambiance. Statues of elephants in many styles and sizes and positions are found throughout the garden with out being gaudy or overdone. Koi chase one another in the pond, and an imported African orchid spreads its big green palms skywards. Over 200 trees, including 30 different species of palm and hundreds of native and imported orchids, had been added to the backyard in 2004.

Steve Irwin – ‘It’s the perfect’
Steve Irwin, the late ‘Crocodile Hunter’, had declared the place, “The very best elephant park I have ever seen.”

I’m taken to the landing point the place I meet Kade, the mahout. I mount an elephant by stepping on its neck after which sit in the wooden bench made for 2 atop. My elephant is named ‘Ola’ or as Kade calls her “Ola Ola, Coca Cola.” After a couple of footage, we set out on a 35-minute serene walk by way of the green jungle park.

Ola is at all times hungry, Kade tells me, and true to kind she starts wandering and along with her trunk, feeling across the bushes, tearing grass and munching continually. Kade controls her by a wood stick that he maneuvers and touches her proper ear with. He’s perched comfortably on Ola’s neck but tells me to cling fast to my bag, as she can go and then stop with a jerk if she sees one thing delicious.

The park is green and gorgeous and Ola enjoys walking elegantly with a rhythm. It seems like being on a swing. I look across the peaceful surroundings: it continues to be early in the morning and the foliage looks fresh and birds are chirping. I take pleasure in being excessive up, looking down on the jungle.

Home Candy Dwelling
Kade and that i speak about his training as an elephant handler and his life within the village. He says he enjoys working here because it is stone island jumper junior size 14 an efficient strategy to earn a living. He offers me with info akin to how every elephant drinks 80 litres of water and 250k of vegetarian meals. They’re very powerful animals and can uproot bushes very simply.

“How did these elephants reach Bali ”
“In big trucks,” Kade responds. “They had to be tranquillised.” He reveals me the elephant parking spot. “House sweet residence, where they eat and poop,” he says. Each elephant has its own spot the place it is chained up when it is not providing rides, swimming or mating.

Recycling Waste
We end the journey within the pool: one of many deepest elephant wading ponds in South East Asia. Ola Ola Coca Cola goes in with a splash, having fun with herself. Later she shall be unsaddled and have a swim. There’s a park ranger who is constantly clearing elephant droppings from the pool, to be shipped to an elephant manure processing plant in Renon, Denpasar to be turned into an environmentally-pleasant fertilizer.

I am one in all the primary riders of the day and Ola has supplied a pleasing and tranquil journey. A number of vacationers are coming to enjoy the park and to journey the elephants. However we’re not done but. I have to go and officially meet Ola on the ground for more Kodak moments. She puts a garland around my neck and i feed her fresh coconut bark. Eager to showcase his talented pal, Kade takes her to the sting of the pool and she kneels and her trunk goes up and she needs to be immortalized in footage again. I oblige.

The park boasts a water therapy plant and waste disposal system, a brand-new breeding area with public access and viewing area. I stroll with Ketut and we go to the viewing space the place Debby, the baby, is attempting to be taught to choose meals from her head. “She was very malnourished and sick. Now she appears a picture of well being,” Ketut says. “She is a really naughty girl certainly.”

A Fresh Chance
We go to the 200-seat restaurant and bar, where I’m offered a cup of cappuccino. I sip the scrumptious espresso and enjoy the breathtaking views of the park and the elephants having fun with a swim within the water. How lucky for these 27 elephants to be rescued and given a contemporary likelihood at life.

And such a transformation this is! What had been as soon as degraded rice paddies is now an elephant paradise frequented by worldwide travellers. It is a professionally-run world-class venue.

The buffet lunch is extensive and well offered. I hit the salad bar with its great choice. The households and children are enjoying themselves and the staff may be very environment friendly. Everything runs like clockwork.

I pop into the large reward shop offering many elephant souvenirs. Too many issues to take a look at. I linger on within the restaurant, have another cappuccino and look by the knowledge equipment Ketut has introduced me. I need to meet the individual who’s chargeable for all this. I am informed Nigel Mason is on the park, overseeing the completion of his Safari Lodge. I wonder who this gentle soul is who has a smooth spot for the giants of the jungle

An Australian Adventurer
Nigel is an Australian entrepreneur conservationist: an adventurer who was born and educated in England and spent time as a youngster in Egypt. After leaving England on the age of 15 for Australia, he has tried it all: fruit picking, timber cutting, hunting kangaroos, and he had a hand in the development of the Sydney-Melbourne normal gauge railway line. He has rubbed elbows with the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Chubby Checker and Roy Orbison, when he was in the music industry in the late 60s. Many careers later, in 1980, he visited Bali the place he met his wife, Yani, and right here he has remained.

The couple started Bali Adventure Tours in 1989 with 5-star rafting tours, and added on new tours including river kayaking, mountain biking, jungle and rice-paddy trekking, amongst others. All tours offer knowledgeable and trained guides and provide new equipment. In 1996, the safari park was established with nine elephants. Another eight were rescued the next yr. They travelled six days in a convoy of 10 autos masking 1000’s of kilometres by highway and sea to get to Bali. Amongst them the 2-year-outdated Ramona turned out to be an completed painter in later years, and has had some of her paintings bought at Christie’s in New York.

No Simple Feat
It took Nigel nearly four years to rescue extra elephants, and this time 10 elephants have been saved, bringing the family whole to 27. But it surely was no simple feat.

“The number of elephants is quickly declining on account of human and elephant conflict,” Nigel explains, “which is a direct result of elevated illegal logging of the forests they once freely roamed. They are captured by the forestry division, and held in ‘camps’ indefinitely with no hope of ever returning to the forest. The camps lack funds to properly feed or maintain the well being of the animals; therefore, the animals are doomed to a short life of boredom and ill well being.” And these horrendous situations prompted Nigel to take his life in his own arms and check out so as to add the last herd to his park.

Operation Jumbo
Operation Jumbo, a 55-minute documentary made by THREEFOLD Films and directed by Australian Brad Cone, outlines the fervour and dedication of Nigel, who risked a fortune – every elephant prices about RP100 million (US$10,000) to rescue – and presumably his very life, to save 10 endangered Sumatran Elephants and convey them to his elephant sanctuary in the hills of Bali. The film follows nearly three years of Nigel’s wrestle with bureaucracy and the continued problems of Bali. The film graphically exhibits Indonesia’s perplexities and how terrorism prompted the massive downturn in tourism, which it so closely relied on.

The movie was not too long ago proven at the Cannes Film Festival to the television trade by international distributor lsquo;Past’, and was very effectively obtained, with more than 20 networks from greater than a dozen international locations eager about showing the film. It’s being translated into many languages with subtitles in DVD format and might be accessible for sale at the reward shop at the park with proceeds going in the direction of food, medicine and upkeep of the elephants held captive in camps in Sumatra.

The new Safari Lodge
Now Nigel and his workforce are placing the finishing touches to the Safari Lodge: a first class in a single day keep accommodation mission, on account of open in June. It includes a full vary of rooms, from VIP to standard to suit each price range. “You may get on an elephant from your room,” says Nigel. “A first-in-the- world.”

The elephant safari park has enhanced the corporate profile as market leaders in the adventure tourism business and the corporate’s picture as being socially answerable for its efforts in saving the elephants. The Elephant Basis receives part of the park fees. Being large on defending and enhancing the tropical Balinese countryside has additionally created a favourable picture on the island for the Masons.They’ve obtained quite a few glowing reports from the environmental and wildlife organisations praising the revolutionary design and landscaping of the park.

Tormented by Reminiscences
Heading Nigel’s crew is his park supervisor, Dedi Ramlan, a younger Acehnese, who remains to be tormented by childhood recollections of his father, who together with other offended farmers, used to slaughter many elephants so as to guard their land. Dedi has devoted much of his adult life to taking care of the elephants, a passion he regards as payback for the atrocities his father dedicated.

Compassion and determination for a good cause are what has stored Nigel, who turned 63 in April, younger in appearance and coronary heart. It’s all good karma that envelopes the sort soul who has given so much of himself to preserving the giants of Sumatran jungles and giving voice to their plight.