By Ingowari Erenyanate – 1 week volunteer
Take away freedom from us humans and we will rage. We seek to enjoy our right to freedom. Why do we then think that animals do not have the right to be free and live their normal lives?
I have never really been a lover of animals but the idea of working at the Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary with elephants resonated with me. I have read about elephants and their reign over the forest from a young age; from Colonel Hathi in the Jungle Book to Jelani and Ned in the Lion King.
I arrived at the village which hosts the sanctuary four days ago and first visited the elephants on Monday morning. The hike up the hills to the elephants was long and tiring but my first view of the elephants made it seem totally worth it. The sight of the huge and beautiful elephants enjoying their formerly lost freedom warmed my heart and I bet it could warm a heart of stone. What felt more wonderful was feeding the elephants bananas and watermelons. I personally love how the chucked down the watermelon and crushed it in their huge jaws.
We walked through the forest following the elephants and not the elephants following us as is common in our general flawed society. I was intrigued by the relationships between the elephants; at how Mae Doom ran for protection to her mother Too Meh when she sensed danger. This showed exactly how elephants and all other animals have feelings like us. Too Meh being the oldest displayed a lot of independence and care for all the other elephants. There was romance between Mae Doom and Boon Rott, a male elephant who is unrelated to the rest of the four elephants while Gen Thong the youngest and Mae Doom’s nephew would get jealous as he wanted attention.
The hike on the second day was equally as interesting with the elephants tearing down dead trees to eat their bark while replenishing the soil with rich manure.
I loved the visit to the elephants. For future volunteers, my advice is to bring a good bottle for about a liter of water or bottles with extendable straws and bring good hiking shoes.
In the words of John Donne, a famous poet, “Nature’s great masterpiece, an elephant; the only harmless great thing. Elephants deserve our protection.”