Jo Davies Testimonial – Volunteer, March – April – 2018
I’ve always had a passion for Elephants, and through volunteering I have found a way to spend time with these amazing animals. AERU is the 3rd volunteer project I have done with Elephants which was recommended by a previous employee from another project.
The experience here is very unique, and the first captive Elephant project I have done, and it’s awesome. The love and care for these Elephants from all staff is amazing. The bond the Guides have with the Elephants is apparent to see, and something I will never forget.
The information that is shared by the AERU team is fantastic, from when and why it was started to understanding how the project works. The presentations given were great from how the project started to behaviour of the Elephants. Instead of completing tasks with no idea why we were doing them, the AERU team gave us full information and understanding of how and why the information is used, and most importantly to improve the welfare of the Elephants, most importantly the fact the Elephant rides have stopped, Hurrah! This was a concern of mine before volunteering here.
Without a doubt spending time in the field with the Elephants, and watching them is just amazing, especially in the mornings just watching Elephants be Elephants before the tourists arrive. Being allowed to watch the morning training was amazing and to see the bond between Guide and Elephant, while Dr Debbie explained why and what they were doing with positive reinforcement. I loved that if an Elephant didn’t want to take part they weren’t made to, such as Thandi going off for a good old scratch on the tree, she was left to do so.
I was lucky to spend Easter here and I got to make an Easter present for my favourite Elephant Mashudu, and present his food present to him at his morning feed, where he tucked into his watermelon (Easter egg), popcorn, pellet cake and variety of fruit shapes. I was definitely on cloud nine, makes me smile every time I think of this moment
There has been a great group of volunteers, all friendly and fun which has made my time here even more special. From weekends out, walks in the field of an evening, fantastic food together, games nights, movie nights and Easter egg hunts, Braai’s. 4 weeks really just goes to fast.