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Day in the life of – Elephant Conservation volunteer

elephant 4

Every Tuesday and Thursday

 Today I woke up at 6am to be showered, dressed and ready to leave at 6:45am. I wouldn’t suggest bringing much with you except a camera, a coat in case its cold, old shoes you don’t mind getting ruined, lunch, and anti-bacterial gel (you’ll find out why it was so important for me further on!).

So we got to the Crags Elephant Sanctuary about 7:45am (probably could have been quicker except I was desperate for a coffee stop). I introduced myself to the Elephant keepers and they walked us to the paddock. They gave us a couple of shovels and wheel barrows, which we used to clean up the Elephant’s ‘business’ from the night before (see why you need the hand gel now?). It may not sound appealing but cleaning up Elephant poop is not nearly as bad as you think it would be! Yes, my arms were in complete agony as it was so heavy (some were literally the size of my dog), but if you all work together you can get through all the paddocks and the outside field in just over an hour easily.

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Next we walked over to the fields where the 5 Elephants were kept and we had to do an hour-long Elephant observation, where we just got to sit and watch them and record any interactions that they have with each other.

Then we had lunch (tea and coffee are provided), whilst we waited for visitors to come so we can join them on their tour.

This was the best part of the day. As our reward for cleaning Elephant poop and writing Elephant observations all morning we got to go and meet the Elephants! Firstly, the keeper gave us some brief information about the individual Elephants such as their names and ages. Then they brought us out to a podium where they walked the Elephants up to us (by this point I was so excited) and some of us got to ‘walk’ them by placing their trunks in our hands, in to the forest.

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We were then taught about the natural behaviour of Elephants and about their bodies (try to remember this as you’ll get tested on it later). But then the best part… we got to go and cuddle them! When I say cuddle I mean give them a stroke and get pictures with them, even though I was nervous they were such calm and lovely animals and it really is a surreal experience being so close to Elephants. After going up to each Elephant individually, we got to ‘walk’ them back to where we were at the beginning where we fed them pumpkin (no I didn’t realise they ate pumpkin either) which was again so much fun and probably my favourite part. After we said goodbye to the Elephants we got given a quick lesson about Elephants as a species (thankfully I remembered some of the facts we were told), and it was so interesting finding out about the Elephant’s bodies and how they survive in the wild.

 

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We then said goodbye to the keepers, got in the car and headed home where I then had a long-needed nap!

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