August 1, 2010

Katherine from BLES wrote:

1 August 2010

As I write this, I have a great big smile on my face! That smile hasn’t faded since the arrival of our most recent rescue, Wassana (Fortune).

Wassana arrived at 4am on the 29th July. As she stepped off the truck, she caught my eye and once again gave me that long stare that feels like she is searching my soul. She stopped in front of me, lowered her head and repeatedly lifted her injured foot. Our language was silent, but I understood. After being sold from one tourist camp to another and then arriving at BLES in just over a month, Wassana was exhausted. She was showing me her injury and begging me not to work her too hard. I gently rubbed her foot, leg and the side of her face, telling her she didn’t have to worry. She was free. She would never have to carry tourists on her back ever again. Again, she looked at me. It was dark, but I am sure I saw her smile…

As the sun rose, the elephants began to meander down to the Sanctuary, ready for their early morning scrub downs and the day ahead. The first ones to greet the day with deep belly rumbles, was Tong Yui and Bong Beng.  They were excited by the presence of another elephant and their curiosity got the better of them. They moved quickly over to Wassana and gently traced their trunks all over her aching body. Wassana was just as interested in her new friends and what we thought would be a brief greeting ceremony between newly acquainted elephants, became a full-on choir practice! It was beautiful and the three of them have formed such a strong bond. They haven’t been separated since! 


Standing by the edge of the pond, Wassana watched Tong Yui and Bong Beng roll in the water. These two water babies, ordinarily spend hours in the pond, but they seemed nervous to leave their new friend and stuck close to her. Wassana began to sing in a progression of high pitched squeaks. This lasted for an hour and it was clear to us all she was full of joy. She lifted her trunk and gently pulled her two young friends closer to her. As the three of them squeaked and trumpeted, I wondered if you could hear the pure elation in Wassana’s voice. There was no doubt in my mind, she was singing for you all. She was chanting her thanks for the world to hear.

Our days are now full of cheerful chirps and Wassana’s happiness is contagious. Wham, her new mahout, is literally bouncing with pride. The other elephants are comfortable with our new arrival and even Boon Mee, who is notorious for shoving all our new rescues, stood happily close to Wassana for a while.

The most unexpected occurrence was Pang Noi. During Wassana’s welcome buffet, Pang Noi, who had been standing with Somai, walked up to Wassana and reached out to her. The two of them gently vocalized and then Pang Noi moved on. Those few moments moved me to tears. Pang Noi who has been through more heartache than any other elephant at BLES, who has been pushing everyone away since the death of Star, chose to be befriend Wassana. It was just a small gesture, but I am hopeful it was a taste of things to come.

Mee Chok is still loving being the center of Pang Tong’s and Lom’s undivided attention. The three of them have become a very tight family group and Pang Tong is proving to be protective and is reluctant to let the other females near. Having lost two of her own calves and Star, it is no wonder why.

Tong Jai has been joining us on our walks recently which has been nice. The females have been quite excited by the presence of two handsome males!

We have been making the most of all the recent rainfall and so far have planted 1500 banana trees, several acres of corn, pumpkins and pineapples as well as a field of sugar cane. There is an abundance of fresh lush fodder in the forest and the river is high.

Things are good at BLES. Our elephants are happy, the forest is full and flourishing.
Today, I took a few moments to look around me. I did a 360 degree turn and all I could see was long grass, grazing elephants, sleeping dogs and laughing mahouts. As I stood and breathed in all of the goodness, I thanked all of you. You are the ones who have made this all happen. It is you that has helped give our twelve elephants this euphoria.
 
Wassana being with us means so much in so many ways. She is our beacon and a testament to what can be achieved when complete strangers unite and work together. You all played an important part in both Mee Chok’s and Wassana’s rescues and I thank you on their behalf for believing in BLES and making it their home.
 
Thank you.
 
Trumpets from the elephants and love from me,
 
Katherine 

13 comments:

morningbrayfarm.com said...

What a happy ending! I love it. Seeing elephants at play is priceless!

Sharon said...

What a lovely description of the elephants in Katherine's correspondence! The pictures are fabulous, it's like you want to go and sit there and just watch them. But, of course, that would defeat the purpose of the sanctuary - right? They have had enough people looking and using them.

Louise said...

A wonderful ending to this story. May Wassana live a long and happy life in her new found home.

Sandra said...

Sharon, you can actually visit the sanctuary and just observe the elephants and enjoy their new found freedom.

Feral Female said...

What a wonderful ending!

Heather said...

Oh Sandra... what a WONDERFUL story. I really hope that everything continues to go well over the next years with her and she learns to enjoy her freedom to it's fullest.
May I ask if you can donate to BLES?

Canyon Girl said...

What a wonderful letter and pictures. I'm so happy Wassana won't have to suffer any more. Do you hae a link to the sanctuary? I'm sure you posted one a while back. What great work they do.--Inger

Sandra said...

Heather, I knew you'd love the happy ending:) You can donate to BLES. They also offer donation and adoption possibilities - just check their website (http://www.blesele.org/how-to-help , http://www.blesele.org/adopt-an-elephant ) -it's easy to navigate.

Inger, I couldn't be happier for Wassana. You can use the link I have on the right top side of my blog or just use this link: http://www.blesele.org/

Canyon Girl said...

Thank you Sandra.--Inger

The Zadge said...

What a beautiful story!! I wish I didn't live thousands of miles away!!

polly's path said...

oh, I have tears in my eyes. So glad to hear the fantastic end of the story. Actually, it sounds more like a beginning, not an end.

Keri said...

Oh My GOSH!! This is fabulous, wonderful and touching. You live a unique life and I am so happy that you do. These creatures are magnificent. Thank you for doing what you do. I bow down to you. Really... Thanks for bringing it here for the world to see. Keri

Lori Skoog said...

Thank you for posting this Sandra...it has me in tears. All the elephants deserve this new life.. I am so grateful that there are people out there who care enough to do this.

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