I love this shot – Surin, Thailand elephant village project.
On this particular morning we went out to chill and to cut some bamboo so that the elephants could have one of their many feasts for the day.
I remember one morning, we were out taking the elephants for their walk and one of them who is very well known around the village got impatient over food and ripped down a big palm tree with just the trunk. I was just blown away by the sheer strength of these beasts.
There were lots of stray dogs around this village. They would fight over food and territory, every single day and night. I recall one day in particular where we were taking the elephants for one of their walks and the whole line of about 10-15 elephants stopped.
There were two dogs brawling in the middle of the road, blocking the way for the elephants to walk. Suddenly, I hear these growls from the elephants, these sounds shook the floor beneath me. The dogs scattered with their tails between their legs while the elephants continued to walk.
These things are big beasts, but it’s crazy how people actually build close relationships with them. Just like a house pet, these elephants all had names and their own unique character to go with it.
They are extremely gentle creatures with amazing traits about them, but believe me they are capable of pure destruction.
I watched a girl get thrown about 5 metres in the water by a baby elephant who got over excited while taking a bath, as most human babies do. She launched a girl with her trunk and the sheer strength took her back, literally and figuratively.
The intelligence of an elephant is far greater than a lot of other animals, and this is possibly why people find it so easy to connect with them. I saw an elephant so smart and skilled that he could actually paint pictures with a canvas, a brush and his trunk.
These sorts of things, although incredible are also seen as a type of abuse, and so the elephant project in Surin was to ensure that these domesticated elephants were getting the right care and weren’t being used to make their owners money.
An incredible experience I’ll never forget. It was the catalyst for what I’m doing now in Cambodia.