Sitting on the couch, snowed in with heaters going and a woollen blanket over my knees it was a day to engage in other useful pursuits. I was going through my collection of photographs and came across this photograph of me and an orphaned elephant in Sri Lanka’s famous Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage taken about 10 years ago.
The skin of the animal was kind of hard and crusty but that’s probably because he/she had not been in the water. I was so scared to get near it but the photo opportunity was just so compelling so there I was standing next to a gentle giant. It was a moment in time, beyond my wildest dreams.
Welcome to the Asian Elephant, Elephat d’Asie (Fr.), Elefante Asiatico (Sp.)!
I was so privileged to have visited this elephant orphanage at Pinnawela situated between Colombo and Kandi. The Pinnawela Elephant Ophanage was establised in 1975 by the Sri Lanka Wildlife Department and stretches over about 24 acres of land. In 1978 the Orphanage was taken over by the National Zoological Gardens. In 2000 it was estimated that there were 70 orphaned elephants. I hope the numbers of orphaned elephants have increased and wish the NZG all the best in their endeavours to save these endangered mammals.
Quick facts: the Asian Elephant is smaller than its African cousin and highly endangered. It has smaller ears then its African cousin whose large ears are one of its distinguishing features. The elephant is the largest mammal on earth, it is a herbivore, can live up to 60 years in the wild and could weigh over 4,500 kgs.
For more information and reading on the Asian Elephant: check out the following websites:
- http://srilankaelephant.com – Srilal Miththapala – who has been studying the Asian Elephant for over 20 years. The site has beautiful photos of the Asian elephant. It is a family affair.
- http://www.nationalgeographic.com – the official Nat Geo site
- http://www.panda.org – World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
I am so glad to know that people like Srilal Miththapala and his family whose valuable research and love for the Asian elephant is helping to save the mammal from extinction. The efforts of WWF and work of Nat Geo are commendable. Their valuable and significant contributions and interventions towards more awareness and knowledge of the endangered status of the Asian elephant, conservation advocacy and urgency for action are efforts that call for strong support. Keep up the good work.
Standing side by side with the gentle giant, my gentle-phant, was indeed a magic moment.