By Tomoe Kashioka- 1 week volunteer
The week in KSES was full of surprise and fun! I joined KSES as a volunteer for 1 week with my mother and my younger sister from Japan because we all love animals and thought it would be a memorable experience to work closely with elephants. The week we spent here turned out to be more than expected. People at KSES were so kind and supportive and our host family tried to help us as much as possible happily with delicious lunches and dinners.
Every morning we did a hike up the mountain to see the elephants and feed them bananas. For us living in Kyoto city using cars for transportation every day, it was really challenging to hike up the steep, muddy, and slippery path but what drove us to do it every day was the lovely elephants.
Our favourite elephant was Boon Rott. He was so sociable to humans and what made him different from other three elephants was that even after we ran out of bananas, Boon Rott stayed with us, whereas other elephants returned back to the forest for more food. Boon Rott tried to touch us and sniffed our shoes by his trunk, played with branches and had eye contact with us (more eye contact as we spend more days!).
It was such a great experience to see elephants in their natural habitat, learning that they are smart and intimate with their mahouts. It was also important that KSES taught us that elephants are facing unhappy situation from being used for tourism so that the elephants can survive but also there are new projects going on to give them better life.
We will never forget this life-time experience and will keep telling people of the situation of elephants in tourism and asking for their support to make elephants as happy as the four elephants are here!