Our Jumbo Express team was called out to a trekking camp to treat a
female elephant who had just miscarried. We left immediately! The drive
to Huy Pak Kood village was over 11 hours away. Arriving after midnight
our team saw a baby elephant which appeared to be under one year old.
He was very skinny and looked so depressed, startled and his eyes were
full of fright.
He kept hitting his head against the side of a
narrow cage. His skin was riddled with parasites and he was in a
very sorry state. We offered milk but he would not accept it nor any
other comforts from our team.
The next morning the owner of this bedraggled
orphaned baby elephant came to talk and asked us to take care of
this baby as he still needed to drink purchased milk which he
told us his family cannot afford. The cost of looking after the
baby was beyond them. He had liver-worm and parasites infested
his blood. These were the conditions that had killed his mother.
He was not given much chance of survival.
We moved him to a
new home and gave him the name "Hope". From the first moment of
his arrival he tried to be friendly with Ging Mai, an orphaned
baby elephant, already under our care, but Ging Mai did not want
to know him and turned away each time Hope approached.
Lek tried hard to make Hope accept milk
from her, but he knocked against her, pushing attempting to
hurt her many times. He chased the visiting elephant
volunteers around the pen trying to knock them down and
tried to kick out or vigorously swing his trunk at anyone
who came close to him. He was nervous the first three nights
and could not sleep at all. He kept everyone else awake
trumpeting over and over throughout the night. The fourth
night he fell into a sleep and Lek used this opportunity to
get close, patting and comforting him. When he would wake up
she ran from his pen. She did this every night until finally
Hope accepted her. He awoke and slowly opened his eyes then
silently tiptoed over to see Lek. She sat beside him and he
sat wearily down. He kept laying down letting her pat him
and was soon fast asleep again. Lek knew that he had
accepted her and released him out of the pen early next
morning to walk with him and the volunteers. Hope walked
over to join
Ging Mai in the surrounding jungle. He
showed lots of things to little Ging Mai and shared his
experiences while he was with his mother. Ging Mai copied
his foot steps and newly learned antics. They enjoy mud
bathing and swimming together and Hope brought real elephant
experiences to teach his younger sheltered friend.
The volunteers were made to work hard all the time, preparing
milk, trekking with them and, at night, putting the exhausted
playmates to bed. They now had 24 hour care as the volunteers took
shifts during the night to answer calls for milk. Hope always showed
to every one how different he was from Ging Mai. He is so confident
and naughty and this contrasts greatly to Ging Mai’s gentleness and
shy demeanour. Hope is continually playful and likes to smash
everything in front of him. Both orphans loved their time together
and never left each others side day or night.
After Hope had been with us for eight months, his owner came to
take him back. He was to be trained for work. Lek told him that the
youngster still needs milk and cannot let him go back. The more Hope
stayed with her the more she loved him and she really couldn’t let
him go back to cruel training and arduous work. With the help and
kind support from Jody Thomas (USA) and Leonor Gonzo (Australia)
Hope won his freedom to stay with us. These kind volunteers became
Hope’s foster parents after helping to buy his freedom.
After the untimely death of Ging Mai, Hope stopped
drinking and taking food. He was totally devastated and kept
calling out for his young friend. He used his trunk to smell
and looked all over the area for his little brother. Finally
we had to move him to another place. It was just too sad to
see this devastated boy stay in this land surrounded by
painful memories and sadness.
For the safety of the two remaining babies Lek decided to move
Hope and Jabu to another house in a remote
location. They became firm friends and played relentlessly. A few
months later he was moved again and found a permanent home.
Hope today is happy in his new home with his adoptive mothers at
the Elephant Haven. Thanks for all the volunteers who gave Hope the
chance to live and for helping us take care of him. As his name
suggests, he is our Hope and we will see him grow up as a free
elephant and a real king of the jungle.