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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 pass streams and ravines and glide by the inexperienced, mesmerizing, rice paddies. There may be harvested rice strewn about drying within the sun and competing for space with the canines that snooze lazily on the roadside. Rice stems twitter within the breeze, ready to be picked, while new seedlings are scattered into the muddy field by the fingers of the outdated bent figures. Life in full cycle. Temples and cremation ceremonies, folks of their finery pass us like a fabulous strolling canvas. The canvas of life.

We slow down when we attain the park the place an indication reads: Elephant Crossing. Strolling by way of the gates to the museum that displays an array of interesting exhibits from ivory carvings, to tusks, to a full size mammoth replica, which has been purchased and introduced from an Ice Age exhibition in the USA, you might be left with no doubt that elephants are the main attraction right here. A huge skeleton of a 30-yr-old Sumatran elephant in the foyer greets us. Enlarged billboards scream concerning the atrocities done to elephants, with photos of useless elephant bodies: for what For greed, actually not for need.

Very Polite Elephants
Considering my experience with Pogli, I am not sure I would like to meet the elephants however Iwan assures me their elephants are very tame, polite and civilised. Having seen uncivilised elephants, I am not satisfied but I quickly change my thoughts.

Elephants that may paint, do arithmetic and play basketball are civilised, if not just a little showy. One elephant paints with a brush in her trunk, then calls for totally different colours though she is nearly color blind. Three elephants in a row on a raised platform parade with their tails in one another’s trunks confidently strolling the catwalk. Another answers 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 whereas her friend kicks the soccer however misses the purpose. See, they are not perfect. But it is showtime and the elephants seem to love being the centre of attention.

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

We go through a beautifully-designed landscaped backyard. Everything is nicely balanced and blended naturally into the jungle ambiance. Statues of elephants in lots of sizes and shapes and positions are discovered throughout the backyard without being gaudy or overdone. Koi chase one another within the pond, and an imported African orchid spreads its big inexperienced palms skywards. Over 200 bushes, together with 30 different species of palm and thousands of native and imported orchids, had been added to the garden in 2004.

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

I am taken to the landing point the place I meet Kade, the mahout. I mount an elephant by stepping on its neck after which sit within the picket bench made for 2 atop. My elephant is called ‘Ola’ or as Kade calls her “Ola Ola, Coca Cola.” After a few pictures, we set out on a 35-minute serene stroll by the green jungle park.

Ola is at all times hungry, Kade tells me, and true to form she begins wandering and with her trunk, feeling around the bushes, tearing grass and munching always. Kade controls her by a picket 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 will be able to go and then cease with a jerk if she sees one thing delicious.

The park is green and gorgeous and Ola enjoys strolling elegantly with a rhythm. It seems like being on a swing. I look around the peaceful surroundings: it is still early within the morning and the foliage seems to be recent and birds are chirping. I get pleasure from being high up, looking down on the jungle.

House Sweet Residence
Kade and i discuss his coaching as an elephant handler and his life within the village. He says he enjoys working right here as it is an efficient option to earn a living. He offers me with details similar to how every elephant drinks 80 litres of water and 250k of vegetarian meals. They are very highly effective animals and might uproot timber very easily.

“How did these elephants attain Bali ”
“In huge trucks,” Kade responds. “They needed to be tranquillised.” He reveals me the elephant parking spot. “Residence candy house, where they eat and poop,” he says. Each elephant has its personal spot the place it’s chained up when it’s not providing rides, swimming or mating.

Recycling Waste
We end the experience in the pool: one of the deepest elephant wading ponds in South East Asia. Ola Ola Coca Cola goes in with a splash, having fun with herself. Later she will likely be unsaddled and have a swim. There is a park ranger who is consistently 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 considered one of the first riders of the day and Ola has supplied a nice and tranquil experience. A lot of tourists are coming to benefit from the park and to ride the elephants. But we aren’t finished but. I need to go and formally meet Ola on the ground for more Kodak moments. She places a garland round my neck and i feed her fresh coconut bark. Desirous to exhibit his proficient good friend, Kade takes her to the edge of the pool and she kneels and her trunk goes up and she needs to be immortalized in photos once more. I oblige.

The park boasts a water remedy plant and waste disposal system, a brand-new breeding area with public access and viewing space. I stroll with Ketut and we go to the viewing area where Debby, the baby, is trying to study to pick meals from her head. “She was very malnourished and sick. Now she seems to be an image of well being,” Ketut says. “She is a very naughty girl indeed.”

A Recent Likelihood
We go to the 200-seat restaurant and bar, where I’m offered a cup of cappuccino. I sip the delicious espresso and benefit from the breathtaking views of the park and the elephants enjoying a swim in the water. How lucky for these 27 elephants to be rescued and given a fresh probability at life.

And such a transformation that 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 in depth and properly presented. I hit the salad bar with its nice choice. The families and youngsters are enjoying themselves and the workers could be very efficient. Every thing runs like clockwork.

I pop into the massive present store offering many elephant souvenirs. Too many things to take a look at. I linger on in the restaurant, have another cappuccino and look by the knowledge kit Ketut has brought me. I need to fulfill the individual who is answerable for all this. I am advised Nigel Mason is at the park, overseeing the completion of his Safari Lodge. I wonder who this gentle soul is who has a mushy 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 at the age of 15 for Australia, he has tried it all: fruit selecting, timber chopping, hunting kangaroos, and he had a hand in the development of the Sydney-Melbourne customary gauge railway line. He has rubbed elbows with the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Chubby Checker and Roy Orbison, when he was in the music trade within the late 60s. Many careers later, in 1980, he visited Bali the place he met his wife, Yani, and here he has remained.

The couple began Bali Adventure Tours in 1989 colour changing stone island with 5-star rafting tours, and added on new tours together with river kayaking, mountain biking, jungle and rice-paddy trekking, amongst others. All tours offer educated and trained guides and provide new tools. In 1996, the safari park was established with nine elephants. Another eight have been rescued the next yr. They travelled six days in a convoy of 10 automobiles masking thousands of kilometres by highway and sea to get to Bali. Amongst them the 2-12 months-outdated Ramona turned out to be an accomplished painter in later years, and has had a few of her paintings sold at Christie’s in New York.

No Easy Feat
It took Nigel nearly 4 years to rescue more elephants, and this time 10 elephants were saved, bringing the family total to 27. But it was no simple feat.

“The variety of elephants is quickly declining due to human and elephant battle,” Nigel explains, “which is a direct results of increased unlawful logging of the forests they as soon as freely roamed. They are captured by the forestry department, and held in ‘camps’ indefinitely with no hope of ever returning to the forest. The camps lack funds to correctly feed or maintain the health of the animals; therefore, the animals are doomed to a short life of boredom and ill health.” And these horrendous circumstances prompted Nigel to take his life in his personal fingers and try to add the last herd to his park.

Operation Jumbo
Operation Jumbo, a fifty five-minute documentary made by THREEFOLD Films and directed by Australian Brad Cone, outlines the fervour and dedication of Nigel, who risked a fortune – each elephant costs about RP100 million (US$10,000) to rescue – and possibly his very life, to save lots of 10 endangered Sumatran Elephants and convey them to his elephant sanctuary within the hills of Bali. The film follows nearly colour changing stone island three years of Nigel’s struggle with bureaucracy and the continued issues of Bali. The movie graphically exhibits Indonesia’s perplexities and the way terrorism precipitated the massive downturn in tourism, which it so heavily relied on.

The film was lately proven at the Cannes Movie Festival to the television trade by worldwide distributor lsquo;Beyond’, and was very properly obtained, with more than 20 networks from greater than a dozen countries all in favour of exhibiting the film. It is being translated into many languages with subtitles in DVD format and can be available on the market at the reward store at the park with proceeds going towards food, medication and upkeep of the elephants held captive in camps in Sumatra.

The brand new Safari Lodge
Now Nigel and his staff are putting the ending touches to the Safari Lodge: a primary class in a single day stay accommodation mission, due to open in June. It features a full vary of rooms, from VIP to straightforward to suit every 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 image as being socially accountable for its efforts in saving the elephants. The Elephant Basis receives part of the park charges. Being large on defending and enhancing the tropical Balinese countryside has also created a favourable image on the island for the Masons.They’ve received quite a few glowing stories from the environmental and wildlife organisations praising the modern design and landscaping of the park.

Tormented by Memories
Heading Nigel’s team is his park manager, Dedi Ramlan, a younger Acehnese, who is still tormented by childhood reminiscences of his father, who together with other offended farmers, used to slaughter many elephants in order to guard their land. Dedi has devoted much of his grownup life to taking good care of the elephants, a ardour he regards as payback for the atrocities his father dedicated.

Compassion and willpower for a good cause are what has kept Nigel, who turned 63 in April, young in look and heart. It is 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.