Elephants, or an excuse for lots of elephant photos

One of the big attractions in Kanchanaburi is Elephants World, a sanctuary for elephants that have been rescued from work in logging camps or on the streets, where they are frequently employed in begging schemes. The sanctuary offers two programs, a one day visit in which you feed and bathe an elephant in a large group, and two day visit with an overnight stay, in which your small group of overnighters gets extra, up-close time with the elephants. Naturally, we chose the two day visit.

How could you pass up spending extra time with a face like this?

First, let’s start with elephant feeding pictures. It’s not simply that the elephants look very happy while they’re eating, but that their trunks are so incredibly dextrous.

Elephant-bathing photos: first, mud.

Then, water:

A group of clients bathe “their elephant” … … and another elephant bathes back. A mahout with his elephant.

The mahout is a key part of the elephant culture. Each elephant has a mahout who is the elephant’s primary caregiver, and the only person who can ride the elephant. In traditional culture, a mahout and an elephant might grow up together, and they form an inseparable bond. For many of the elephants at the sanctuary, however, their mahouts over-worked them or mistreated them,so the mahouts at Elephants World have to work to gain their charges’ trust.

More feeding photos, featuring some guy I don’t know:

The elephant’s trunk is sensitive as well as dextrous. It can tell if a yam bean is good to eat or not, and it can handle even small pieces of fruit.

At night, the elephants are put outside the compound, on a chain so they don’t wander into the forest, and given lots of banana trees to eat, which they munch on as though they were celery stalks.

Their feet are pretty neat, too.

Next: a few more gratuitous elephant photos.

elephants, flamingos, giraffes, hyenas and jackals

from cats and dung beetles we quickly move on through the next few letters of the alphabet …

first, a breeding herd of elephants, and they’re breeding. no, that’s not the baby elephant’s trunk in the last photo.

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then onto flamingos. barely pink flamingoes, but flamingos nonetheless.

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the giraffes are very graceful, in an awkward way.

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jackals are part of the canine family, while hyenas aren’t, and if there were any “i” animals, i didn’t spot them. check out the teeth!

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and that’s enough of the safari for now.

next: something that isn’t the safari.

ngorongoro crater – part 2

as i mentioned in the last post, the big five safari animals are the cape buffalo, the lion, the black rhinoceros, the elephant, and the leopard.  we saw plenty of elephants.

fig. 1b. the same elephant.
two shots of the same elephant.

generally, we saw the elephants in singles or pairs, but at one point we came across an entire breeding herd. the light was fairly harsh, so the shot isn’t quite what i’d have liked, but you have to take these things as you find them.

if there were leopards in the ngorongoro crater, we didn’t see any.  however, the real draw – in fact, the reason we were in tanzania at all – was the wildebeest.  also known as gnus, wildebeest migrate through east africa to follow the rains.  over the entire safari, we saw hundreds of thousands of these beasts, although the majority of them were on the serengeti.  we got just a taste of them (so to speak) here.


i took many more photos than just these, of course, but one of the next few blog posts will be stupid with photos of wildebeest, so i’ll leave it here for now.

next: even more critters.