Sam Elvidge Testimonial – Volunteer, November 14th – December 3rd 2016
Whilst working as part of the AERU team I have taken part in lots of activities, such as; cleaning up the Orchard and the Camp, making Enrichments for the ellie’s, getting creative with Dung Paper and Stuffed Ellie’s and doing the ‘Keisha Project’. However my favourite parts by far were field activities. Herd Activity, Nearest Neighbour and Activity on a specific elephant gave me not just the opportunity to observe the elephants in a research capacity.
Of course, the best time was when the field was tourist-free (although the tourists could also be fascinating to watch at times) and the elephants could be elephants without having to put up with photos and being followed around constantly – I don’t know how they have the patience! I wish they had more time to graze and live naturally; I found it hard to watch the streams of tourists consistently coming in and out throughout the day. I also really enjoyed the All-Night Boma Obs; seeing their night-time habits was so interesting and it was also very cute to see which elephants were closest to each other and interacted with one another.
My favourite elephant has to be Thandi. From the very first day I was drawn to her enthusiasm and cheeky (well, naughty) personality. I love the way she walks with her trunk flailing around, head bobbing and mouth open… she looks so happy! One of my favourite memories will be the day that it absolutely poured it down with rain and they all raced to the dam and played around in the water. Turning around or looking at the sodden clipboard for a moment and looking back up to see that a few of them had completely disappeared underwater. Sally was the only one not to join in, instead burying her face in the mud at the side, getting absolutely covered!
I will also remember the time Thato was being naughty rolling around on the side of the dam, not taking any notice to the guide telling her off – she definitely knows she’s cute enough to get away with it!!