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Going rogue in Cambodia - part 7 by Grace castle

The highlight of the trip. A week spent with elephants. What more could we ask for.

Living in the jungle with no phone service or WiFi was something I’ll never forget. Particularly our screams at ghekkos , frogs and spiders. Most surprisingly, the ants in our rooms were the scariest. We spent our free time swinging in hammocks or sitting watching the sky from the lounge area. The lounge had an entire wall missing meaning that the sun was visible over the vast expanse of trees in front of us all day every day. I had never seen such beautiful skies as I did at the Elephant Valley Project. Likewise, I had never seen so many stars in the sky. As we looked up we could see the curve of the sky and hundreds of constellations, and we knew that those at home we’re looking up at the same sky.

The real highlight however was of course the elephants. It was so special to have the chance to follow them as they went about their days, 20 hours of which are spent eating and drinking! No wonder they poop 16 times a day. We also had the opportunity to give Sambo, Ruby, EasyRider and Geenowl health checks. Done every week, the checks are to ensure that they have maintained the same weight, their digestion, their hydration levels and whether they are injured at all. To check the elephants we had the opportunity to touch them which we had not done up until then. They were surprisingly rather hairy!

They are very intelligent animals which we witnessed first hand. For example, Sambo began to wash her injured foot whilst waiting for her mahoot to treat it. We learnt a lot about elephants and how they live while at the Elephant Valley Project. Elephant society is matriarchal and caring, female elephants tend to stick together while males are more isolated. Sambo and Ruby are best friends. They are never seen without each other. At night the elephants are chained in certain areas of the forest on 25 metre long chains so that their mahoots know where they are in the morning. Only Ruby is chained at night because they know that Sambo will never leave her side. Ruby even came with Sambo to have her foot cleaned and infection treated. We also saw the elephants’ personalities. As there were 8 female elephants and with 8 girls in our team, we all individually related to one of the elephants which made the week even more special, exhausting as it was.

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