Hello Loyal Blog Readers!
Welcome to the Elephant Sanctuary! This is our first day here after a week spent building a house in Siem Reap.
Our day started with a quick breakfast before boarding our bus for the 2 hour ride north. As we reached the entrance road to Preah Sa Art (Beautiful Forest) excitement was mounting. Once we arrived it was off to meet the newest denizens of this sanctuary… the 7 new born puppies! The puppies joined our little community about 2 months ago and live along side us with their mother GiGi.
After our full and delicious vegetarian lunch we were introduced to our accommodation, the bungalows. Leona candidly compared the interior of her bungalow to a princess room because of the pink mosquito nets hanging from the ceiling.
At about 1PM we had our welcome orientation and then took our tour of the grounds. We met the rangers that protect the forest, and then the monkeys! Aside from rescuing elephants we also take care of several monkey who have been saved from circuses and markets (where they were to be sold as food). The monkeys have been illegally captured in the forest and our task now is to prepare them to be released back into the wild.
The big moment came at 3PM when lumbering giants emerged into the clearing surrounding our eating hall. The elephants had arrived. Arun Ria and Kamlin are the first 2 elephants to be rescued by the sanctuary. They come from the illegal Cambodian logging industry where they were used to carry lumber. Now they live in the forest with their mahouts (guardians and trainers).
For the volunteers this was their first encounter with an elephant outside of the TV and zoos. It was amazing to be so close to these gentle giants! We fed them the watermelon, banana, and pumpkin that we prepared for them and enjoyed their majestic presence.
After dinner we watch the first of many documentaries about the elephants here. This one focused on the intense and abusive training that domestic elephants endure in SE Asia.
Tomorrow our work begins!