The Treasures of Elephant Valley


Today was one of the most memorable days of the trip so far! Upon arriving at Elephant Valley we were immediately greeted by Jack Highwood, the NGO’s founder. Here he explained a bit about the ecology and conservation of the elephants and their natural habitats. Heading down a steep, narrow path to “Elephant Heaven” lugging giant banana tree-trunks for the elephants to eat, we all managed to make it down with only a few stumbles.


We got to interact with several different groups of elephants, bathing them, watching them swim, eat and socialize, while being sure not to get to close to the aggressive male, Bob. After spending all morning with the elephants we ventured out to see the rest of Elephant Valley.


Through our journeys exploring the land we all started out a bit hesitant. On the first river crossing we carefully hopped rock to rock trying to stay dry. However, as we trekked deeper into the preserve the rocks became fewer and we were forced to trudge through the water. By the time we made it to our lunch spot by the waterfalls, some people were feeling adventurous enough to go for a swim.


Stopping by to see the elephants one last time before the days end we were all sad to goodbye, but definitely learned a lot and were exhausted by the time we finished our hike back out of the valley.


Getting to see the work of The Elephant Valley Project in action was a really awesome experience. Jack told us about all the ways using elephants for tourism and logging deformed their spines and deprived them of proper nutrition. However, nothing he said was as vivid as the remnants of this abuse that we could see both physically on the elephants and through their extremely domesticated behaviors. The goals of Elephant Valley is to rescue captive elephants and use very passive training methods to get them to return to their natural behaviors. Already having made huge strides forward in the 5 shorts years since its founding, The Elephant Valley Project eventually hopes to extend this program even further to also protect the land and habitats for the wild population of elephants in Asia.


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UD students help to give a few of the elephants their morning bath. (Kimberly Blasnik)

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A group of UD students watch the elephants as they interact with their natural habitat. (Krista Adams)

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One of the female elephants helping herself to an afternoon snack. (Jillian Behrens)

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The group on their long uphill hike back out of the valley. (Kimberly Blasnik)



Female elephant, Easy Rider as she goes in for her afternoon dip in the river. (Kimberly Blasnik)


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