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Saving The Elephants Of Sumatra

We cross 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 green, mesmerizing, rice paddies. There may be harvested rice strewn about drying within the sun and competing for area with the canine 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 old bent figures. Life in full cycle. Temples and cremation ceremonies, folks in their finery go us like a fabulous strolling canvas. The canvas of life.

We slow down after we reach the park where an indication reads: Elephant Crossing. Strolling through the gates to the museum that shows an array of interesting exhibits from ivory carvings, to tusks, to a full dimension mammoth replica, which has been bought and introduced from an Ice Age exhibition within the USA, you are left with little doubt that elephants are the primary attraction right here. An enormous skeleton of a 30-12 months-old Sumatran elephant in the foyer greets us. Enlarged billboards scream concerning the atrocities performed to elephants, with pictures of lifeless elephant bodies: for what For greed, actually not for want.

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

Elephants that can paint, do arithmetic and play basketball are civilised, if not a little bit showy. One elephant paints with a brush in her trunk, then calls for different colours though she is virtually color blind. Three elephants in a row on a raised platform parade with their tails in one another’s trunks confidently strolling the catwalk. One other answers the question to 2+1= ,by selecting three from the hand of the ringmaster. Then she is off to slam – dunk the ball into the basketball hoop while her good friend kicks the football but misses the purpose. See, they don’t seem to be good. But it’s showtime and the elephants seem to love being the centre of consideration.

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

We undergo a beautifully-designed landscaped backyard. Every thing is properly balanced and blended naturally into the jungle ambiance. Statues of elephants in lots of sizes and shapes and positions are found all through the garden with out being gaudy or overdone. Koi chase each other within the pond, and an imported African orchid spreads its giant inexperienced palms skywards. Over 200 bushes, including 30 completely different species of palm and 1000’s of native and imported orchids, were added to the backyard in 2004.

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

I’m taken to the landing level where I meet Kade, the mahout. I mount an elephant by stepping on its neck and then sit within the wooden bench made for 2 atop. My elephant known as ‘Ola’ or as Kade calls her “Ola Ola, Coca Cola.” After a few photos, we set out on a 35-minute serene walk via the green jungle park.

Ola is at all times hungry, Kade tells me, and true to type she starts wandering and with her trunk, feeling across the bushes, tearing grass stone island cap black 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 however tells me to hold fast to my bag, as she will 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 appears like being on a swing. I look across the peaceful surroundings: it remains to be early within the morning and the foliage seems to be fresh and birds are chirping. I enjoy being high up, trying down on the jungle.

Dwelling Sweet Residence
Kade and that i talk about his training as an elephant handler and his life in the village. He says he enjoys working here because it is an efficient strategy to earn a living. He gives me with details comparable to how every elephant drinks eighty litres of water and 250k of vegetarian food. They’re very highly effective animals and can uproot timber very simply.

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

Recycling Waste
We finish the experience in the pool: one of many deepest elephant wading ponds in South East Asia. Ola Ola Coca Cola goes in with a splash, enjoying herself. Later she will likely be unsaddled and have a swim. There’s 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 became an environmentally-pleasant fertilizer.

I’m one in all the first riders of the day and Ola has provided a pleasant and tranquil experience. Plenty of tourists are coming to enjoy the park and to trip the elephants. But we aren’t performed yet. I need to go and formally meet Ola on the ground for extra Kodak moments. She places a garland around my neck and i feed her recent coconut bark. Wanting to showcase his proficient good friend, Kade takes her to the sting of the pool and she kneels and her trunk goes up and she needs to be immortalized in photos again. I oblige.

The park boasts a water remedy plant and waste disposal system, a model-new breeding area with public access and viewing area. I stroll with Ketut and we visit the viewing area where Debby, the baby, is trying to be taught to choose meals from her head. “She was very malnourished and sick. Now she seems to be a picture of well being,” Ketut says. “She is a really naughty woman certainly.”

A Recent Chance
We go to the 200-seat restaurant and bar, the place I am offered a cup of cappuccino. I sip the delicious espresso and enjoy the breathtaking views of the park and the elephants enjoying a swim within the water. How lucky for these 27 elephants to be rescued and given a contemporary chance at life.

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

The buffet lunch is in depth and properly offered. I hit the salad bar with its great choice. The households and youngsters are having fun with themselves and the staff is very environment friendly. Every thing runs like clockwork.

I pop into the massive reward store offering many elephant souvenirs. Too many things to have a look at. I linger on in the restaurant, have one other cappuccino and look by the knowledge equipment Ketut has brought me. I would like to fulfill the particular person who’s liable for all this. I am advised Nigel Mason is on the park, overseeing the completion of his Safari Lodge. I ponder who this gentle soul is who has a tender 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, looking 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 within the music trade 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 began Bali Adventure Tours in 1989 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 provide educated and educated guides and provide new gear. In 1996, the safari park was established with nine elephants. Another eight had been rescued the next 12 months. They travelled six days in a convoy of 10 vehicles masking hundreds of kilometres by highway and sea to get to Bali. Amongst them the 2-yr-previous Ramona turned out to be an completed painter in later years, and has had some of her paintings sold at Christie’s in New York.

No Simple Feat
It took Nigel almost 4 years to rescue extra elephants, and this time 10 elephants have been saved, bringing the family whole to 27. But it surely was no easy feat.

“The number of elephants is rapidly declining on account of human and elephant conflict,” Nigel explains, “which is a direct results of elevated unlawful logging of the forests they as soon as 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 correctly feed or maintain the well being of the animals; due to this fact, the animals are doomed to a short life of boredom and in poor health well being.” And these horrendous situations prompted Nigel to take his life in his personal arms and check out so as 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 – every elephant costs about RP100 million (US$10,000) to rescue – and presumably his very life, to avoid wasting 10 endangered Sumatran Elephants and produce them to his elephant sanctuary within the hills of Bali. The movie follows almost three years of Nigel’s wrestle with bureaucracy and the continued issues of Bali. The film graphically reveals Indonesia’s perplexities and the way terrorism precipitated the massive downturn in tourism, which it so heavily relied on.

The movie was not too long ago proven at the Cannes Movie Festival to the tv business by international distributor lsquo;Beyond’, and was very effectively obtained, with more than 20 networks from more than a dozen international locations excited by exhibiting the movie. It is being translated into many languages with subtitles in DVD format and might be accessible for sale at the reward store at the park with proceeds going in the direction of food, drugs and upkeep of the elephants held captive in camps in Sumatra.

The brand 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 venture, due to open in June. It includes a full range of rooms, from VIP to standard to suit each funds. “You may get on an elephant from your room,” says Nigel. “A primary-in-the- world.”

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

Tormented by Memories
Heading Nigel’s crew is his park supervisor, Dedi Ramlan, a young Acehnese, who continues to be tormented by childhood memories of his father, who together with other indignant farmers, used to slaughter many elephants in order to guard their land. Dedi has devoted a lot of his adult life to caring for the elephants, a ardour he regards as payback for the atrocities his father committed.

Compassion and dedication for an excellent cause are what has saved Nigel, who turned sixty three in April, younger in appearance 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.