We sent our newest intern Ebony Dalimunthe to the Mason Elephant Park and Lodge at Taro. This is her story.
Standing two feet away from an elephant, with rays of sunlight filtering through the trees, I never felt more in touch with nature.
The Elephant Park and Lodge in Taro, Ubud, is truly a gateway to the wild. The only elephant rescue park in Bali, this reserve is home to more than 30 elephants, all of whom were rescued from government camps in Sumatra.
Upon arriving at the Elephant Park, I was immediately welcomed by friendly staff who guided me to their esteemed museum, which holds one of the only complete mammoth skeleton replicas in the world. Not only were the artefacts interesting, with some dating back more than 10,000 years, but it gave a snippet of how deeply caring the park was of their elephants.
After a peaceful walk through the park’s jungle scenery, I found my way to the Elephant Feeding Area. At first I was nervous being so close to such a large animal, but staff instantly put me at ease. Fruits and vegetables were available for feeding, as well as pictures up close with the elephants. One of the elephants even gave me a kiss on the cheek with its trunk. It was a very wet kiss, but it was all worth it.
The Elephant Ride that followed was a jaw-dropping, unbelievable adventure. I trekked through dense jungle upon the elephant’s back, watching the elephant leave enormous footprints in the muddy earth; it was an experience I will never forget.
The park assures the straps and harnesses used on the elephants are not harmful in any way. Instead, these rides actually provide elephants with the exercise they need, as they require a minimum of 7 kilometres walking each day. Alongside this, the “seat causes no discomfort to the elephant at all”, as many notice boards inform throughout the park.
I have found the Sumatran Elephant is a gentle, kind creature, despite their enormous size. They are very friendly, with eyes that shine with compassion. I find it terribly shocking that such majestic, peaceful creatures are hunted for their tusks.
This love for the elephants was also clearly shared amongst staff members. I was able to speak with one of the elephant guides, Ketut, who worked on the elephant rides. Standing beside him was an elephant who I learned was called Hola.
“She is like my second wife.” he joked.
Ketut spoke of how important it is to preserve this species, as their population is rapidly dwindling; this is mainly due to deforestation and poaching. To combat this, the park’s elephant herd have naturally bred and are expecting two baby elephants in the coming months. This showcases the park’s passion for saving this endangered species.
My experience at the Elephant Park was truly wonderful; it was the opportunity of a lifetime.
As the saying goes, an elephant never forgets; and neither will I.