Early start this morning after a really bad nights sleep. I was awoken at 0230 am by a chorus of roosters who carried on every hour until 6am, also I could hear a water buffalo outside my room and some pigs. I also thought I could hear the gibbons but it turns out to be some rats.
The day started with a presentation on the elephants. There are currently 9 elephants Gvi have managed to bring back to the forest which are split into 3 heards.
1/. Thong Dee, Sah Jah, Manna and Buka
2/. Khum Sak, Kah Moon
3/. Pbee Mai, Mario an Lulu
It was the third group we would see today, the juveniles.
We had some breakfast of egg and noodles and set off for our hike armed with bananas.
The home took us along the roadside down a very long hill to the outskirts of the forest. When in the forest I got my very first glimpse of the eles which was amazing and I felt a little emotional as all the planning and waiting had finally come together and finally got to see what I had been waiting to see for over a year.
We were allowed to feed the elephants this is only allowed every 2 weeks when a new intake comes and the elephants need to be supervised by their mahouts (elephant keepers). First up was Pbee Mai the oldest of the juveniles and son of Manna he was very pushy to feed and snotted everywhere all up my arm he kept trying to steal all the bananas.
Next up was Mario he is smaller and younger then Pbee Mai due to his mother not being able to lactate and this was why he was brought back into the forest. He was a very cute but has these scary crazy eyes. Him and Pbee Mai spend something like 85% of their time within trunk distance of each other and Mario definitely follows Pbee Mai. Unfortunately as these two best friends get older nature will drive them apart but hopefully they may form a very loose bachelor group.
Finally we got to meet Lulu who is the youngest elephant and the only female in this group. She was extremely gentle and peaceful to feed. Her mother is Khum Moon but unfortunately can't live within her herd as it is felt by the villagers that allowing mother an calf to live together can cause problems so they are removed at 3 years old. Lulu had lived in a camp before returning to the village and she use to follow the boys around learning how to live in the forest but now she spends most of her time on her own or with her mahout. Gvi are hoping to be able to fund a companion for her. Lulu is owened by my home stay family.
After feeding them all they were allowed off their chain and we could observe them and collect data. Currently Gvi are collecting data on Asian elephants behaviour looking at the relationships a man made heard form. So they collect data on the elephants proximity to each other, noises they make, if they touch one another and also their foraging habits. We watched them for around 3 hours and eles kept making there way to the roadside. We did see the two boys playing in a mud bath tho.
The hike back to the village was not fun the big hill we had come down we needed to get back up it in 26 degree heat !! But I eventually made it back and could not wait for the cold bucket shower. Though it was really hard going and I thought I might die I did feel I achieved something.
After showering and eating it was time for are first Pakinyow lesson and a presentation on how to perform health checks on elephants (something we will be doing tomorrow).
Dinner this evening was at our homestays and each day this week I will be also eating with a member of staff to help with the language barrier, although the family don't actually eat with you as they believe it to be rude.
Early night for me as I am exhausted.