Elephants and Technology

I spent the last three days at Elephant Nature Park in Mae Teng Valley, Thailand. I really recommend a volunteer-stay here as a way to be up close and personal with elephants…whose ages, afflictions, personalities, quirks, preferences, disputes, happinesses and frustrations are each on full display. Lek Chaillert is a fascinating woman and so are the rest of the staff and long term volunteers. The friendships that have formed between individual elephants Lek has rescued over the years are, to me, the most interesting part of their work. Last year I spent a while at the Park…interviewing Lek, getting to know Jodi Thomas and Michelle (two long term residents of the Park) and watching mahouts and elephants interact. I also washed a lot of squash, cut a lot of corn, and shoveled a lot of elephant dung. This week I went back for only a quick visit…and I took my new camera.

I set up my tripod pretty far away from Mae Perm, and her longtime friend, Jokia. But as soon as I set up, Mae Perm came right over. She was extremely interested in the tripod and camera and put her eye right up against the lens. Then she leaned her cheek on the microphone. I picked everything up and moved away.

But she followed me. This went on for a while. Until I finally moved on top of a small hill nearby. Her interest, apparently, was not so great to make her climb. Or maybe she did not want to get too far away from her closest companion, the completely-blind female elephant Jokia.

(Thank you Jodi Thomas for the images)

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