2019 Oct 6
Coexistence, man alongside animal together. The forest leaves would ruffle in the wild and the mighty Sri Lankan giants would follow their matriarch as they looked for water and meals. In the past, there was no waste, no excess supply. Humans were humane while animals were animals of course. The Amazon wasn’t on fire, neither was Ella rock. No pollution just peace.
From the plants and animals our parents saw when they were small, we’ve seen nearly half and sadly our children will see only half or less of what we have seen. This is why we need to protect what we have and value the conservationists and organizations that help protect nature.
In August 1999, Millennium Elephant Foundation was founded with the assistance of a world-renowned animal charity. As of that day, MEF has been working continually to improve the treatment of elephants in Sri Lanka by providing a place of medical services and facilities.
MEF has provided homes and care to more than 80 elephants. They currently have eight elephants between the ages of 25-60 that are either temporarily or permanently residing at MEF. At the moment the herd at MEF consists of Lakshmi, Pooja, Kavari Raja, Rani, Raja, Saliya, Madu and Manike. Pooja is a success story to come out of the work done at MEF as she was the first elephant born in captivity in Sri Lanka. The main objective behind this program and organization is to increase awareness about the life of domesticated elephants in Sri Lanka.
MEF is licensed by Footsteps Elephant Consultancy, which is the only elephant keeper training program accredited by the Sri Lankan Department of Wildlife. With this high ranked license, they run the program smoothly as they welcome volunteers and tourists to meet and help out with the elephants.
Things to do
Animal lover or not I’m sure you will love the experience of going on a good walk with these jumbos
Elephant Walk –
- Personalized guide for your whole tour.
- Educational talk by an expert about our foundation, elephants, and a tour of our museum
- At least a 30-minute walk with an elephant around our grounds, watching and observing the elephant whilst learning about Sri Lankan elephants
- Bathing the same elephant in the river, with only your group without other tourists
- Optional shower whilst standing next to elephant
- Free entrance and tour of Maximus Elephant Dung Paper Factory
- Optional 3 course lunch – including tea or coffee
- Whole experience lasts around 2-3 hours
Sounds like a lot of fun and as a keen animal lover myself, I would certainly do this!
There are 4 main aspects to volunteer work at MEF as mentioned below:
- MEF The daily care and treatment of your elephant as well as the administration, fundraising, research, campaigning and museum maintenance needed to support the foundation and their C2C project aimed at improving the lives of elephants and people in Habarana.
- Eco-farm Volunteers will work alongside our gardener growing many fruits, vegetables and medicinal herbs that will be used in elephant care and enrichment, in the restaurant and sold by you in the fruit shop!
- MVU When available, volunteers will be invited to assist the vets on visits to sick elephants and to the peraheras the MVU vets supervise.
- Teaching We have set up informal after school clubs attended by children and adults of all ages, for a few hours a week volunteers can help these children improve their English skills and to raise awareness of conservation issues. Teaching qualifications are not necessary.
Any interested party can adopt an elephant in the facility, this doesn’t necessarily mean you take the lovable jumbo home, you will just be a guardian who helps feed and maintain the elephant as maintenance of elephants are far more costly than our cuddly creatures at home. You will be helping and all of the money goes directly to looking after the elephants.
A charge of LKR 7000 per day is required per elephant. These costs include elephant owners fees, paying the mahout’s salaries, (the elephant’s keeper) elephants food, and healthcare (daily vitamins for the elephants, vet costs, and medicines and treatments when required.)
Please refer their web page for more details
This organization looks very stable socially as they also have a 24-hour mobile veterinary unit that provides free health care and emergency treatment to any sick elephant island wide. They also started a human-elephant conflict to coexistence project to help resolve this issue by providing farmers with tree houses for the farmers so they could look out for wild elephants crossing, providing bells so that they can warn other farmers, planting chilli plants along the area elephants would invade in order to deter them as elephants do not like chillis and also bee boxes on the farmers homes as elephants are scared of bees. MEF also compensate the farmer’s crops which is the main income for them to support their families.
Note- In my opinion ride elephants aren’t cool, let’s maybe promote cruelty-free tourism and volunteering. What do you guys think?