5th May 2015
Have you ever thought of bathing an elephant in a lush forest with green watered ponds? Then follow me on my visit to Kerala Elephant Rehabilitation Centre, an elephant orphanage in southern India.
In India, elephants are considered pets, just like you’d do with a dog, a cat and, if you’re into more exotic types, an iguana. Owning an elephant is a display of wealth and it also symbolises dignity, reliability, royalty and pride. In Hinduism, elephants also represent Lord Ganesha, the god of luck and fortune. (Photo below: Marky Ramone)
During my trip to India’s southernmost state of Kerala, one of the first and best experiences was just that: having contact with elephants. Watching locals bathe and feed those gentle giants, and giving them a hand. The contact with the elephants felt quite surreal, as I touched their thick, tough skin and rubbed it with a green coconut shell.
With increasing man-elephant conflicts nowadays, some elephant calves are displaced and find refuge at government funded Elephant Rehabilitation Centre Kerala in Kappudaku, Trivandrum disctrict. Here they are cared for, and their injuries are treated by local vets. We were also told that some of the elephants here were abandoned by circuses or were simply rescued from mistreatment.
The place felt very quiet and peaceful, the silence only being broken by two groups of school kids visiting and learning about conservation. We were free to roam around the area, currently home to eleven elephants. The oldest of them was 67 years old, a “retired lady” who showed her age, herself victim of mistreatment, but she now seemed very well treated.
The best time to visit the centre is between 9:30 and 11:30am, when the elephants are being fed, but it is possible to visit outside these hours, as well.
Below you can watch a video made by my friend Preeti Hoon.