Ke and Nina Krausenbaum – Volunteer, February – March 2018
Last year, the idea came to me that I absolutely wanted to go to Africa and that I absolutely wanted to volunteer with animals. Pretty soon, I knew that I wished to work with elephants, these gentle giant creatures. That is why I am here now at Knysna Elephant Park, enjoying each and every single moment that I spend with the elephants.
One of the most wonderful moments here was the morning when I had to do Boma observation outside with the Milky Way above me and the ellies in front of me. Everything was so clear and calm, just wonderful.
Another great experience was the walk with the ellies. I had tiny little Thato at my side and Davison as an amazing guide who let me touch Thato almost all the time and told me a lot about her character and the elephants in general. It was just so amazing to walk with her side by side, to be touched by her trunk, to feed her some pellets, to look into her eyes with these long eyelashes.
Or the dung walk in the fields which started with the elephant’s breakfast, followed after a certain time by the “big jackpot” (ie Keisha’s poo), and ended high up in the Dead Trees with Madiwa not willing to give her sample of the day.
The list of wonderful moments could be endless. Just the fact to observe the ellies, to watch them interacting… I could do this for more than only 3 weeks. I will definitely miss seeing Sally trying to reach even the highest branches, Nandi rubbing her dry skin against barriers, poles and bars, Thandi running around like crazy with her big ears and her big wrinkle on her front, my tiny little Thato with her curious trunk, gentle and soft Keisha getting along with everybody in the herd, cutie Shungu with his sad eyes when standing at the barrier to convince each single guest with a bucket that he is the saddest ellie boy on earth, this handsome boy Mashudu (will he gain Madiwa’s heart?), and not to forget the three girlies – Amari with her stretching sessions in the morning, beautiful little lady Madiwa and Shanti with her sometimes silver shining skin, all being so well behaved.
Thank you AERU team, thank you guides, for all your help and your support.
I’ve always been a huge animal lover so when one day my mom asked me if I would like to volunteer with elephants in South Africa my answer of course was a huge YAAAASSS. I was expecting my time (or should I better say our time) here to be great but I wasn’t ready for such an amazing life changing experience. Meeting the ellies and getting to know each one of them better was just wonderful. It is hard to put in words how they touch you on an emotional and spiritual level. All the moments spent with them were my favourite moments but if I had to choose some that were exceptionally special I’d say that the surprise morning walk with Mashudu was one of them. It was so great to walk right next to him and I remember looking down and seeing his huge gigantic gentle feet next to my tiny feet and just thinking wow, I am so thankful and grateful and amazed and humbled and, and, and,… to be walking next to this amazing animal. Although I love all the ellies here I got to say that Keisha is my favourite. I admire her for having been through so much and still being so gentle and loving. She is a great example to follow. The world might knock you down sometimes but you have to keep your kindness and spread it to make others happy and to create a better world. Special moments for me were the “normal” every day activities. Doing field activity, standing and yawning in the boma in the morning waiting to clean it, joking about up-cycling with the AERU team, … All those “little normal” moments that are so special to me and that I will miss a lot. I would like to thank everybody at AERU, the guides, the staff, the cats and frogs for my amazing time here. I will be back for sure!