Sunday, August 16, 2015

Elephants, Elephants And More Elephants!

I had been to Srilanka last week with my friend Shail Mohan, Dr.Meena Kumari and her daughter! This is the first time I am going out, out of the country tour without my family and I enjoyed it a lot! It was fun roaming around with WOMEN friends, taking care of just myself (!) in another country! Srilanka looks just like our Kerala, but is cleaner and with less population.  People seemed to be soft natured too and I liked the sing-sing tone of their language, whether it was Sinhalese or Tamil.

Our flight was one hour late on the first day and so we could not see much activities of the elephants like milk feeding, bathing  etc.  We reached Colombo and from there on our way to Kandy (night halt), we had lunch and then reached this Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage at 4.30 pm. It was only one and a quarter hour flight time from Chennai to Colombo! It was as if we were going to Hyderabad from Chennai! The elephants were returning from bathing.  It would have been fun watching them taking bath.  But....hmmm...Have a look at them esp. the one month old baby elephant walking in the front! Slowly, I am getting used to taking videos!

Elephants are returning after having a bath in the river Ma Oya..we were late reaching this place and so, missed them taking bath!
They looked very disciplined...going in a row!

This elephant orphanage is in a large area of 25 acres with 48 mahouts for taking care of them!

Elephants were seen inside this enclosure!

Many baby elephants were with their mothers...a separate enclosure was there for just baby elephants...

 Now, to wikipedia for more information about this Orphanage.  First, when I heard the name 'orphanage', I didn't like it.  Then from wiki I came to know how people here are taking care of them...really great work.

The orphanage was established to feed, nurse and house young elephants found abandoned by their mothers. Young elephants sometimes fall into pits and ravines in their quest for water during drought period. Other orphans have been displaced from their wild habitat by development projects or have been found abandoned before weaning, diseased or wounded.

The elephants are fed in their stalls. There is very little food they can gather from the premises of the orphanage except some grass. Large quantities of Jack fruit, coconut, sugar palm tamarind and grass brought in daily, form the bulk of the elephants food. Each adult animal is given around 250 kilograms (550 lb) of this green matter per day and around 2 kg (4.4 lb) from a food bag containing rice bran and maize. 

More than twenty-three elephants were born from 1984 to 1991. In 1998 there were fourteen births at Pinnawala, eight males and six females, with one second generation birth in early 1998. Since then till early 2012, 84 more were born at Pinnawala.

I had seen many elephants together at Vaikom's Seeveli but here, too many were there.

Thank you, Shail for taking me with you, here! I will never forget this experience!

Edited to add on 19th Aug.'15: My friend who accompanied me during our Srilankan trip, has written about how many hurdles we crossed before travelling to Srilanka along with beautiful pictures! Have a look!



Destination Infinity said...

Wow, that should've been a cool experience :) I too feel, from the photos I've seen, Sri Lanka resembles Kerala. Should go there someday myself. Did you have any problem taking the tourist visa -- someone told me a few years back that it's difficult for people from TN to get visa.

Destination Infinity

Sandhya said...

DESTINATION INFINITY: No problem in getting visa at all. The tour operator got for us. Srilanka is really very beautiful!

Shail said...

Awesome, awesome, awesome! It is wonderful to read about a trip we have taken together! :D
The video of the chotu elephant baby is so cute. I remember you standing right in front. i think I have one picture of yours with your camera trained on the elephants. Will send it :D
With all the *hurdles* we managed the trip! Hurrah to that ;)

Sandhya said...

It was a happy trip! At last we made it, yes! Enjoyed thoroughly!

SG said...

Sri Lanka is a beautiful place. We have visited there 3 times (long time ago). But every time I think of Sri Lanka it pains my heart to recall the sufferings of our fellow Tamilians.

Jeevan said...

Beautiful photos and I like more their obedience and amazing to see them marching the street like soldiers. I have heard about this elephant camp (orphanage) and I hope it was feel good visiting this place in person. Nice country

Sandhya said...

Yes, for me too! But I saw Tamil everywhere in hoardings, boards etc. We were talking in Tamil everywhere, nobody bothered, which I didn't expect. I thought we might get some hostile looks. No! We didn't go near the Tamil area, which maybe we should have done. Colombo, Kandy, Nuwara Elia, Bentota, then back to Colombo and back home. Are you following their election? Rajapakse didn't party got majority. I had read earlier that the next person who came after Rajapakse also was not good. Hope some relief will come soon to the Tamils.

JEEVAN: I loved it! I love elephants always! They are like huge babies!

Locomente said...

Come to Kerala... You will find many elephants there as well...
I have never been to Sri Lanka and have always heard that it is a beautiful place..

ashok said...

love the jumbos :)

sm said...

beautiful photos
will be back again to see the video

Usha Pisharody said...

Lovely, informative post, Sandhya, as always :) A delight indeed to read of the elephants with whom we, in Kerala are really familiar :) :) But these elephants, in the orphanage, look much better looked after than the ones here.
The elephants here, as you know, are for the ritualistic purposes, and are often ill treated by the mahouts, not to mention the long hours they might have to put in , rain or sun.

Loved that baby! Chooooo cute :)

Anonymous said...

Awwww....sooo cute baby elephant ! I can hear someone say "kutti yanai" :D :D
Beautiful post Sandhya...wish I too tagged along with you girls !

Sandhya said...

LOCOMENTE: Try to make a visit, it is beautiful!

ASHOK: Thank you, Ashok!

sm: Please do, you will love them!

USHA PISHARODY: I loved them when they were marching out of the lake/river! They walked close to each other, at times just sniffing at people at times! We feel so tiny in front of them but more than them, we are harming them.

Nearly all of them are chained in the stands, but except one, I didn't find any chain marks (it can be seen if they are tied tightly) on their legs. Most of them were in pairs. It was nice to watch them. I saw the ankush in one man's hand, Which I had seen in Vaikom too. It looks sharp. Many of them had dark gray skins without the pink patches too, so them must be healthy. Wiki says, they are fed well. Thank you, Usha!

UMS REFLECTIONS: You should have joined us! That was Meena's voice!

Rama Ananth said...

Loved the pictures and the videos. It is always fun to travel with like minded friends.

Wini said...

Wow maami! I love elephants and that kutti elephant in the video looks paavam because I read the term "orphanage". :( It is great that these people are taking care of the elephants, but I have seen them being ill treated at the Vaikom seeveli. It is heart-breaking.

Glad you had a great time :)


Sandhya said...

RAMA ANANTH: All of us enjoyed this trip very much, Rama, thank you!

WINI: Even I didn't like 'orphanage' word. But I felt they are looked after well, as much as possible. Except for a couple of elephants I didn't see any rashes at their ankles. Thank god. Yes, all of us enjoyed!

Govind said...

A very good informative post. Glad you loved the visit.

Sandhya said...

GOVIND: Welcome to my space, Govind!

Yes, we enjoyed our trip very much! Thank you!

Deeps said...

You and Shail are inspirations! My best friend and I have been forever planning an all-girls holiday for ages but we are yet to implement it. Your experiences drive me to get on to it even more fiercely. Hopefully soon.

So glad to read about your trip Sandhya! I too had the same impression of the Lankan people. So soft spoken and humble! Our stay, when we had visited, had become doubly enjoyable thanks to their ever welcoming vibe :)

Sandhya said...

DEEPS: We enjoyed our trip thoroughly! The weather was good, except in Nuwara Elia (very cold!)...we had a good driver cum guide...friends in same was memorable. Thanks Deeps!

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