A few months into my Australia travels I journeyed over to Bali, whilst there I had the opportunity to ride a Sumatran elephant.
I absolutely adore elephants, and this is not the first time I’ve been able to get up close to these loving creatures. My first encounter was at an animal sanctuary in Spain – Rio Safari, where I got to sit on an Indian Elephant’s back. I think from the way it nuzzled it’s trunk against my shoulder, neck and cheek as I got close may have been a sign it liked me too.
During my Bali trip I got to actually ride on an elephant, on a seat upon it’s back. Sumatran elephants are sub-species of Asian Elephant. Asian elephants are categorized by a twin domed head with an indent in the middle, and long and tapered lower lips. They differ from African elephant in height (African elephant bulls growmup to 4m tall whereas the biggest Asian males reach no more than 3.5m) and ear shape and size (African elephants have much larger ears). As of the 23rd of January this year the Sumatran elephant’s status was moved to critically endangered due to loss of habitation.
There is a clear difference from the powerful gigantic African elephants. Whilst volunteering at Shamwari I was able to spend a day at the nearby Addo Elephant Safari where we got to feed and ride the elephants (although in this case with no seat, sitting bareback with a guide behind me. I was surprised to find that the elephants have sharp, coarse hairs growing from their backs, which were sharp enough to penetrate my trouser leg and spike me!
African Elephant at Addo Elephant Park
The elephants were all so gentle and it’s sad to think how endangered they are. Born Free have an elephant campaign and explain on their website (http://www.bornfree.org.uk/campaigns/elephants/):
“Born Free’s Elephant project was set up in 1989 when reports showed 200 elephants a day were being slaughtered for ivory. Today it fights the ivory trade in Africa and Asia and campaigns against captivity.“
Born Free’s Elephant Project:
- Protects wild elephants and their habitat
- Fights the brutal ivory trade
- Exposes the plight of captive elephants
- Helps care for rescued elephants
Born Free Elephant Achievements:
- Huge campaign and press coverage helped ensure an international ivory trade ban (1989); our 1.9 million name petition ensured it was upheld (1992)
- Support of the world’s longest wild elephant study, by Cynthia Moss, Amboseli National Park, Kenya (since 1992)
- The Ele-Truck mobile vehicle repair unit to maintain anti-poaching patrol unit vehicles in Africa (1990)
- The East 17 elephant translocation vehicle, moving elephants from areas of conflict to safe havens within Kenya (1995)
- The return of Nina the elephant to the wild, supported by Martin Clunes and watched by 13 million BBC viewers (1997)
- Kenya’s largest ever elephant relocation,
Article source: http://01ksnow.wordpress.com/2012/06/12/elephant-experiences-6/