In February 2010, I flew from Heathrow to Thailand, heading for Sukhothai where I had arranged to stay in the guest house of Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary (BLES). I was somewhat thrilled with anticipation. When I finally met Katherine Connor, the owner of BLES, my anticipation turned to joy – I was surrounded by 200 acres of lush forest and animals (wild life and rescued elephants, dogs, cats, cows, tortoise).
Katherine then took me to visit the FAE hospital in Lampang. Soraida was kind enough to show us around the hospital and introduced us to the patients currently undergoing treatment or requiring life-time care. We spent time with Motala and played with Mosha, both of whom have prosthetic limbs and the tiny baby elephant, Dante who was born prematurely. We watched the vets treat a new comer who had arrived the night before.
I was moved to tears over and over again as we listened to Soraida tell the painful stories of each individual. My tears of sadness were quickly replaced by hope for the future as I watched the vets care so lovingly for the sick animals. It warmed my heart to see Katherine and Soraida together, whose shared passion for the elephants and their welfare has led to a firm and fruitful friendship.
This visit to FAE was a most humbling experience for me to see such gentle giants formerly enslaved by the covetousness of humans and reduced to begging and illegal logging, but now free although only able to walk with the aid of prosthetic limbs.
If you’ve visited Soraida Salwala and FAE’s Elephant Hospital and want to tell us about your trip, please leave us a comment. Your story could appear in our next blog or newsletter!
Director/Producer, The Eyes of Thailand