Hello BEES Friends,
It’s been a little while since we wrote our last Blog…. Lots of things happening here at BEES with the new elephants joining the program, World Elephant Day, Mae Jumpee’s two years at BEES. The BEARS project has also been very busy with new animal rescues, little Paan sadly passing away from suspected FIP a fatal and incurable disease, we have also been providing treatment to village animals and updating our rescues with their vaccinations, worming/de-flea and tick treatments as well. The 1st September we will also be running another sterilization day.
Mae Jumpee – Retired two years at BEES on the 16th August:
On the 16th of August 2012 Mae Jumpee was the day we moved beautiful Mae Jumpee by truck to BEES to be retired after a lifetime of working for the tourist trade. It has truly been an incredible two years watching her bond with Mae Kam and learning to just be an elephant, living up the forest life and grazing on lush greenery, chilling out in the grass fields and having the ability to play with mud, exfoliate and scratch whenever she wants too and swim and refresh herself in the creek and big river. We just can’t believe it’s been two years already! What an incredible journey and an amazing accomplishment to have provided Mae Jumpee with sanctuary and a place to rest and just be an elephant for two years already. We couldn’t have achieved this without the help and support of all of you, our wonderful BEES friends.
Each and every day is always full of all kinds of ups and downs and endless emotions. It’s heartbreaking working with animals in Asia and seeing the cruel, harsh treatment and often pure neglect of animals on a daily basis. We work passionately to educate locals and tourists to guide them to use more mindful and caring approaches to the animals and act in the best interest of the animal’s welfare, so that the animals can have a better life. We feel in order to teach them to have love and respect for their elephants, we must teach them to love and respect all living things. In order to teach them to love all living things we must lead by example, also running an animal rescue and provide care not just for elephants, but cats, dogs, tortoise and local wildlife rehabilitating and releasing where possible. All living things should have equal rights and should all be loved and have the care and respect they need and deserve.
As you all know we recently moved two elephants needing help, to join the project for rest, care and recuperation. We are an elephant sanctuary that provides an alternative for elephants and their owners to escape the city life and provide home and sanctuary to all elephants in need by replacing the income of the owner and providing a natural home for his elephant. No Hooks, No Riding, No Tourist Entertainment and No suffering, just having the ability to BE elephants. Many elephants are tired, overworked, injured and retired elephants that just need a place to have a rest and care when they are on a break from working in tourism or to permanently retire too and spend the rest of their days being elephants. The term of stay is at the discretion of their owner, although we aim to work closely with the owners and provide them with an alternative income and to give the elephants this life for as long as possible, ideally permanently.
We work tirelessly to educate, raise awareness and help to bring an end to the cruel reality that is animal exploitation all in the name of Tourist Entertainment.
Buying elephants in our minds is currently not an option, one due to lack of funding and two because we must ensure the owners are not going to use the funds to gor out and buy another elephants. We do not want to see another calf be torn from its mother and be imprisoned in a life of work. Often calves we are seeing today have been illegally laundered across the border from Burmese wild populations and enslaved in a life working in the tourism trade in Thailand. We choose not to buy elephants if we feel that the funds would be used to continue this vicious cycle and grueling trade.
Kham Mee and Boon the elephants that have joined the project on rest, care and recuperation are settling in well:
Already we love them both and it makes us smile to see them in their natural element doing what they do best, just being elephants. Just being an elephant is something that very few elephants across Thailand have the ability to do. We hope that the owner will re-sign the contract at the end of the two years so they can stay here permanently.
Let me share with you Kham Mee and Boon’s story:
Kham Mee is an elephant in her early 30’s she has already had three babies. One that was still born, the other that is now out working in the camps and the third Phu Boon her 8 month old son. Kham Mee has spent the last 30 or so years away from her owners and rented out to trekking camps and has been trekking for tourists, carrying heavy loads on her back. She is tired and has been forced to wear heavy trekking gear, her hind toenails have split and her feet abnormally shaped, likely to have been taken from her mother too young and not had enough calcium and with the added weight and stress has caused damage. Kham Mee is an Asian elephant privately owned and one of over 4,000 registered captive elephants in Thailand that suffer severe cruelty and exploitation all in the name of Tourist entertainment.
It is important to understand that the situation in Thailand is complex and due to many different factors such as tradition, lack of education and resources, lack of laws and enforcement and the main one being thousands of uneducated tourists coming to Thailand every year and unknowingly putting $$$ into the trade means we continue to see thousands of Elephants and animals suffer every day at the hands of humans.
Tourism $$$ are fueling the elephant and wildlife trade and ultimately the suffering of these amazing animals!
Kham Mee and Boon’s owner asked for help:
Kham Mee gave birth to Phu Boon in a trekking camp in Mae Hong Son. When she was strong enough around 1 month later, the owner decided to walk her from the camp back to his home village where he would keep her on rest and give her a less stressful environment to raise her calf. When the owner Poor Luang Mange, 63 year old brought them home after many years of Kham Mee being away, he realized he just wasn’t as young and fit as he used to be and struggled taking care of them. This was now a full time job for him, he slowed work on his farm and he began to realize that by not sending his elephants to work meant that he no longer had an income. When Phu Boon was showing signs of discomfort in his eye one afternoon after he was playing in amongst bamboo with his mum, Poor Luang Mange asked a friend who knew a vet in Chiang Mai if they could help to heal Boon’s eye. After weeks of treatment with no results, Poor Luang Mange was getting worried that the eye would never heal. He found Mae Kam’s owner Poor Luang Panuu one day and they began chatting about their elephants and Poor Luang Panuu mentioned that his elephant Mae Kam had been with BEES for 2 years now and he just signed another 2 year contract. Poor Luang Mange asked Poor Luang Panuu if he thought we may be able to help. Poor Luang Panuu said you should go and ask, I’m sure they would be happy to help.
He came on the long trip to visit us at the Sanctuary on a motorbike with his Son at the end of May and on the 3rd of June we took the long and windy drive to their village almost 70km away. We took treats of Mango, cucumber and banana for Kham Mee and had a good look at Boon’s eye it was not in a good way. As soon as we met Kham Mee and Boon we knew the owner needed help and we had to get Kham Mee and Boon the help they needed. We organized for veterinarians from TECC Elephant Hospital to go out and meet with Poor Luang Mange and assess Kham Mee and Boon and provide a treatment program for Boon’s eye. It was agreed the best thing for them both was to have some time in a quiet place to rest and recuperate where the eye can be treated and monitored and Kham Mee can finally have a good rest and have some time of freedom so that more serious health issues don’t arise in the near future. It’s certain more severe health issues would have arisen if they were kept in the stressful situation they were in, Poor Luang Mange had no other choice but to hobble Kham Mee’s front feet as she kept breaking off the trees she was tethered too during the night and raiding local farm lands. Making local people very angry and costing Poor Luang Mange the last of his savings from when Kham Mee was working in the camps.
Kham Mee and Boon move to BEES:
After having made a few visits to check in on Kham Mee and Boon the BEES Team had sprung into action and had finished building a small treatment area and enclosure for Kham Mee and Boon. We put out a call for help and a group of wonderful woman in Australia held a little fundraiser raiser raffle to raise the funds for the truck transfer, treatment costs and a medical treatment area and enclosure. Thank you BEES Australia Team and thank you to all who bought raffle tickets to make Kham Mee and Boon’s rest and treatment possible!!!
Dannielle Haylock from Australia was the lucky winner with ticket number FA0174 and has already accepted her prize of flights and a stay at BEES. Dannielle is already here and enjoying the forest life this week.
CONGRATULATIONS Dannielle! We hope you enjoy your stay!
Kham Mee and Boon arrived at BEES on the 18th July after 2.5 days walking from Mae Hong Song :
It was an amazing 2.5 days walk. The overpowering emotions we felt walking with Kham Mee and Boon was just incredible. Elephants can teach us so much. An elephants love for their family is so strong and Kham Mee without a doubt has eternal love for her calf and would do anything to protect him. On the 15th of July we hired a truck to transfer Kham Mee and Boon to BEES. When the truck arrived everything seemed to be running smoothly when all of a sudden Kham Mee panicked and let out a loud roar that made the earth beneath us vibrate and hurried off into the forest where she had been hobbled with her calf for the last 6 months. We think Kham Mee thought we were taking away her calf and she didn’t understand that we were trying to help here. To not cause her or Boon any more stress we decided it would be better to walk at whatever pace Kham Mee and Boon could walk and it didn’t matter how long it took as long as they where both safe and as stress-free as possible.
The first day they achieved more than we expected and almost reached the half way point walking down through the mountains starting just before 6am and getting to their stopover place just after 4pm. Kham Mee is a magnificent mum and loves her baby boy Boon so much, keeping him in close and stopping frequently for him to suckle. Here is the video from the first day http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjFg5sHEC54
Day 2 was incredible we experienced almost three seasons in one day, it started off quiet cool in the morning and then by 9am the sun was shining bright and getting a bit hot and steamy at midday the road was starting to get very warm and we were stopping in the shade as frequently as we could. Then right at the perfect time the clouds came over and rained heavily cooling the the road down and relieving Kham Mee and Boon helping them to feel a bit more cool and comfortable and bringing them strength to get to a safe stopover place for the night. Day 2 video is in the making and we will share with you in the coming weeks.
Day 3 started for us at 4.30am driving to their stopover place and starting the walk just after 5.30am. They had been tucked in a bamboo forest and had a lovely rest for the evening and where ready to finally get home to BEES, it was almost as though they could smell their new home in the distance. Getting home in the midmorning of the 18th July after three incredible days of walking up and down mountains through pouring rain and hot sunshine they made it to BEES.
Mae Jumpee and Mae Kam meet Kham Mee and Boon:
On the 19th July they were all released together in the grass field after having a good rest. Mae Kam and Mae Jumpee were sniffing the air and trying to figure out what the new smell was. They were both quiet hesitant and almost frightened of Kham Mee and Boon. When Boon approached them for the first time it was almost as though they had seen a little monster. Boon crept up through the tall grass and poked his head out to see Mae Kam and Mae Jumpee, when they saw him they were startled, causing them both to run the opposite direction like he had frightened them. In the days to follow, they all seemed to stay clear of each other.
Then one morning they had a bit of a sniff before their walk and then they went their separate ways. During the third week Mae Kam was out grazing in the forest and Kham Mee decided she would take Boon to go Mae Kam and Mae Jumpee to try to be friends, whilst Kham Mee and Mae Jumpee were getting to know each other through sniffing and touch. Mae Kam decided she wanted to get to know Boon a bit more and nudged Kham Mee with her trunk and took Boon very gently with her trunk and guided him away with her very quickly, running quiet far from Kham Mee. Kham Mee ran to follow very quickly followed closely by the mahouts, Boon got tired after running nearly a kilometer and slowed down. Kham Mee ran and caught up to her little Boon and embraced him in her trunk, sniffing him gently to make sure he was okay and letting out a low almost angry puff and grumble, swinging her trunk towards Mae Kam as if to say stay away from my baby.
We think Mae Kam was tired after her attempt to take on Boon as her own and not being successful. She seemed disappointed she couldn’t have Boon and when she went back to her night area she lay down for about 45 minutes and wouldn’t eat, almost like what we believe were signs of depression. It’s important to remember that these elephants when they are calves were ripped away from their mothers, abused and had their spirits broken, they are not allowed to express natural behavior and often exhibit stereotypical behaviors (swaying back and forth) because they are chained on short chains and deprived of appropriate diet, natural stimulation and sociability, the life time of heart ache can cause phycological issues also and it can take time for them to heal and adapt.
Mae Kam was likely force bred, her first offspring was ‘still’ born and her second lived until he was three years old and just before he would have been ripped away from Mae Kam for training he was killed by a nasty bite from a king cobra. We believe Mae Kam tried to take Boon as her own as her behaviour was not aggressive towards him, she didn’t seem like she was going to cause any harm and she looked as though she was protecting him.
This to us, just shows the incredible memory of elephants and intelligence of these majestic and sentient beings that have love, experience loss, grieve and suffer from what we can relate to as depression, the maternal love of a mother and her calf is so strong and the love they share between family units is what can be described as pure love, hapiness and joy. They are so incredibly similar to humans when a child, a friend, a parent, a sibling, an aunt/uncle, a grandparent passes, elephants similar to humans are deeply sensitive and compassionate beings that show emotions, shed tears and use touch and vocalisation to express these emotions which can be can relate to great sadness and even greive when a loved one is lost. It can take time, new love and friendships to help in the healing process, the pain and memories will always be there but like with humans, we learn to move on with time and through the help and support of our friends and family.
Mae Kam bounced back fairly quickly Mae Jumpee was close by and after her 45 minute lay down we offered her food and water and she responded well, she gave us quiet the scare. In the days to follow she was very quiet and didn’t seem to want to venture too far from the grass fields, she was quiet and it seemed to us as though she was depressed, almost like it wasn’t that long ago and she had just lost her calf and was heartbroken. We think it may have brought back memories for her and feelings that over time heal and that she remembers her young and it’s difficult for her, like it would be for any mum who has loved and lost a child. They do say an elephant never forgets! Mae Kam was back to herself within a few days. It seems as though Mae Jumpee has taken a liking to Kham Mee and Boon and has tried to bond with them but if Mae Jumpee tries to get close to Kham Mee and Boon, Mae Kam keeps pulling Mae Jumpee back to her, almost as if to say she is my friend and you can’t have her.
Mae Kam and Mae Jumpee are inseparable, when Mae Jumpee had to be trucked to TECC elephant hospital earlier in the year Mae Kam was nearly beside herself with worry and searched for Mae Jumpee every day and was so happy when she came home.
BEARS Animal Rescue and Shelter update:
There has been a lot going on in the land of BEARS, many new rescues since the last Blog and also the sad passing of our darling boy Paan. All the newest rescues are doing well. The tortoises are living it up on the wild picked mushrooms we are picking daily for them. The dogs are loving the mud and love to run and play in the rain. Our darling disabled girl Mollie loves to play boss and tries to chase around the big dogs and always wears herself out. We will be heading into Chiang Mai hopefully in the next two weeks to the hardware store and to buy fencing for the new dog shelter.
Thank you all so much for following our progress and for being part of the building blocks of our little sanctuary here in rural Thailand. Together we can make a difference!
Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!
The BEES and BEARS Team xx
All Photos © BEES Elephant Sanctuary