Close to 50 elephants participated in Dr. Mikota’s elephant health camp. Today was the final day, at least for the elephant examinations. Over the next several days samples will continue to be processed, with results reported to the owners of the elephants.
This is precedent-setting work. The owners voluntarily participated — enthusiastically, in fact. Today one of the proud owners provided information about his recently acquired elephant, complete with physical and behavioral information.
When one of the elephants became nervous about the exam, another mahout mounted on a young elephant brought his elephant close to “her friend” with favorable results. The nervous elephant immediately settled down. The younger elephant touched her friend around her mouth and stomach in an obviously reassuring way. Their display of friendship was tender and the mahout’s sensitivity was refreshing.
Our work is not done. While samples are being processed, records made and treatments prescribed, Dr. Mikota will pursue other community-related projects that will enhance elephant welfare while benefiting the community. As soon as these projects get the official go-ahead I will report on them. They are all very exciting.
Sauraha is a close knit community. Even though tourism is the backbone of their financial support, the daily activity of earning a living and caring for their families is the activity that is observed each day, from dawn until dusk.
These are a happy people. Their connection to mother earth is the common thread that ties them together. Busy building new homes, resorts, replenishing dirt for planting, tending to the rice paddies, planting young plants that will later feed their family and tending to their animals is what occupies their daylight hours. The heat and absence of air conditioning brings them out onto rustic porches and stoops bordering the earthen roads after dusk. Children chase each other through the darkness while dogs cavort freely, homeless or not. The heat is forever present but a lightness fills the air. You are one with the community with a simple but genuine head nod and namaste, which brings a beaming smile to a previously serious face. All is one; all is well with the world.