Today we awoke to the sounds of birds and monkeys from right outside our open-air huts. It’s getting a bit chilly at night, but a much-welcomed chill from the heat of Siem Reap.
After our filling buffet breakfast we got in our first dose of ELEPHANTS! We spent one hour meeting the sanctuary’s two old ladies, Arun Ria and Kamlin, both rescued from the illegal logging industry. Jono gave way to the first ele kiss of the week :O Later this week we get to watch a few documentaries on each elephant’s journey to the sanctuary.
At 9:00 we split into two groups and began the days work. One group headed out to a ranger camp with Dang, a volunteer intern, and I where we started to build a toilet. There are about 250 rangers that the elephant sanctuary employs to protect the forest from poachers. Previously there were no toilet facilities at any of the camps, but with all of the volunteer’s hard work we are able to bring the rangers 8 new toilets.
The second group headed into the forest with Stan, another volunteer intern, to start work on a firebreak. Due to it being dry season, fires are unfortunately common. We are racking together hay to surround the sanctuary. With a controlled fire the sanctuary will light the hay, which will eventually prevent any future fires going any further.
At 11:00 we all headed back for lunch and break time. When 1:00pm rolled around it was back to work. The toilet building crew headed to the vegetable garden outside our accommodation to perform some upkeep and the firebreak crew trekked back into the forest in search of Arun Ria! We spent an hour bathing the old lady before it turned into a massive water fight: volunteers vs. mahouts! Once Arun Ria was sparkly as can be everyone headed back for a quick break until it was afternoon feeding time. With baskets full of melons, papaya, pumpkin and banana tree the volunteers got to get up-close and personal once again with the majestic creatures.
Right now we are sitting down to watch two more documentaries – one about the sanctuary and another about Reach Out Volunteer’s work here.
Tomorrow we get to visit a local primary school and help with morning English classes. Stay tuned 😀