"After 45 minutes we found a herd of 11 elephants. This family is one that often is within the area. It has 9 females (3 sub adult and 6 adult) and 2 infant males.
The difference between these elephants and the three we had seen the night before was striking. They were calm, collected and completely not bothered by our presence.
For people who manage elephants these are an excellent example; they are calm, moving slowly and have an air of confidence that you don't see with captive elephants as they see or know no boundaries. For my staff it is an excellent example of what we need to do with elephants because you can explain in detail what you want but if they don't see it with their own eyes they wont believe it. Especially as the last 3 elephants they saw were high moving and clearly dangerous bull elephants.
We watched them for half an hour and moved on.
Next stop was the main view point where you can overlook the main Kui Buri valley. Here we waited for over an hour until we saw a row of bums.
Whenever we see wild elephants they are surrounded by egrets waiting to hop up and eat horse flies and other bugs that suck the elephants blood.
After a while we headed back to the previous family to see them pass through and then the rangers got a radio call that a bull had been spotted nearer the entrance and so we headed there.
While watching this beautiful sedor (tuskless bull) graze grass and get groomed by his possee of egrets I left Ek and Yat talking with the guides and got talking to two german tourists who were sitting watching the elephants.
While they thought the view was beautiful they had no idea what is going on as their guide had given them no information. With this I was surprised so i ended up explaining about the place and about elephants a little which obviously surprised them. However I had not come here to be a german tour guide and was more curious about why the guide had said so little so I left them to it and got talking to their guide who was sitting with our guide 25m away. Chatting with them it
was clear that they were paid per tour. 300 THB (approx. £7) for the first tour and 100 THB (£2.50) for everyone after that. Therefore if they gave a particularly boring tour then guests tended to stay an hour and get bored (no phone signal) and then they could go back and grab some more visitors.
Lesson learned there then! Keep my guides on salaries!
Ek and Yat had wandered off and up to a house that serves as a view point so I got talking to them about where we are moving next with our new project and how we need to get our elephants like these bulls. The bull in front of us was an excellent example of how close and yet how far we could safely be from wild elephants and was obviously not a far step away from what we are doing already.
After much discussion we headed back and again came across our friend Mr Gaur, this time also surrounded by a posse of egrets that were watching him anxiously.
After Dinner we headed back out with the local rangers. This time however, I forgot my phone and didn't get any images of the three bulls which we chased out of another pineapple field after stalking them for an hour. An incredibly useful lesson in how the locals use sound and low level light to creep up on the elephants before shooing them off.
The next day we left exhausted and tired on a bus to Bangkok. A true busmans holiday we had spent the last days in a blur, elephants, trucks and planes and we were now heading home with a list of new friends, ideas and renewed passion. It was a hell of a trip and has had a tremendous effect on these two men who have gone from strength to strength since. The effect it had on Ek and subsequently
on Kamoon as already wielded some very positive results."
To find out more about the work of EVT or to visit or volunteer at EVT or EVP in Cambodia visit www.elephantvalleys.com and www.elephantvalleyproject.org