Elephants are fascinating animals. I remember the first time I saw an Asian elephant up close, which occurred near Pai in Northern Thailand some time in July 2014. I was very much impressed by its height and massive body. Such strength and power! Such rough and tough skin! I could clearly see its intelligence behind its eyes, which amazed me. I was standing a couple of feet away from the elephant and it felt as if it was staring right through me, all the way into my soul. Which is complete nonsense, of course. Elephants have poor vision and mostly rely on their ears and nose. I’m pretty sure it only smelled the bananas which I was holding in my hands.
If elephants didn’t exist, you couldn’t invent one. They belong to a small group of living things so unlikely they challenge credulity and common sense.
~ Lyall Watson
My first encounter with elephants left me rather intimidated. I hadn’t fallen in love with this species yet. Elephants are too complex to grasp immediately. Spending an hour with them is simply not enough to realise just how ‘developed’ and unique they are… or to see what they are able to do (both good and bad things); to witness what they can feel – and to feel with them; to discover their characters; to read them. It was only after spending several weeks with them that I began to understand the magnificence of these creatures and wanted to work with them more closely.
Over the last few weeks, many friends and family members have asked me why I am returning to Northern Thailand and what I will do there. While I explained my reasoning in more detail, questions arose (why elephants? what kind of NGO will you work for? etc.). Most people ended our conversations by asking me to keep them updated. So I have decided to set up this blog as a platform to share my adventures. I’ll start to write about what it’s like to have returned to Pai and work for the NGO within the next couple of days. I’ll also try to add some resources about elephants to illustrate their magnificence, and will make this blog a little more professional. Stay tuned!