Although there is some controversy about the keeping of elephants for the entertainment of tourists, it was something I wanted to see for myself. Bali Elephant Camp is home to a herd of Sumatran elephants, brought to Bali as part of a government program in 2004. The aim was to establish a protected remote population, to care for the elephants and promote the plight of these beautiful creatures. A declining natural habitat and the sickening actions of poachers has seen the Sumatran elephant population decrease by 70 percent in the past two decades. I was surprised by the distance from ground to back of elephant and the rocking gait took a while to get used to.
Our pachyderm was named Ari. He gently swayed his way along the path
guided by his personal mahout with the twitch of the rope and a whispered word.
We stopped briefly, very glad we weren’t following behind.
With a lighter load, we continued through gardens
before the landscape became a verdant, tropical jungle.
The nerves were jangling as the path neared the edge of the precipitous valley, hoping our mount was as surefooted as he appeared.
At the end of the thirty minute trek, Ari cooled off in the wading pool while we remained high and dry.
Returning to home base, Ari posed for a couple of photos
before enjoying some delicious fresh fruit and vegetables.
It was time for us to do the same, lunch at the restaurant didn’t disappoint.
An afternoon downpour was very welcome and alleviated some of the heat.
These elephants are well fed and well cared for and the funds raised from riding these magnificent creatures help protect their wild cousins in their native habitat in Sumatra. I know there are two sides to every story and this may not be the life an elephant should be living but it is far better than this.