Elephant Haven needs You!

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By Jen and Katie

We’re back volunteering at Elephant Haven.  It’s not just a haven for elephants.

Next year is when the elephants arrive but there is much to be done before then.  This is always the tough part of a project: the pre-project not-so-exciting part.  But on the other hand, it’s maybe the most rewarding time: to know that every little bit of fundraising or work on the ground will mean the arrival of the elephants at their retirement home.  The digging in of fences, clearing vegetation, the  digging in of fences, the building, the digging in of fences, the gardening/harvesting fruit, nuts and veg, the wood-cutting, the digging in of fences….

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Yep, the fences are a big thing.  The phase 1 area needs 700 fence posts for the ‘people’ perimeter fence, and then another reinforced fence for the elephants.  Companies have come forward to donate materials and equipment.  A group of 22 enthusiastic volunteers started erecting the fence this summer, and little by little it’s getting longer.  They had a rewarding summer “break”!

Marking out the fence.
Marking out the fence.
Nice and straight.
Nice and straight.
Photo credit to Ietje Breunis
Photo credit to Ietje Breunis (the summer volunteers)
Materials for the fencing
Materials for the fencing

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Photo credit to Ietje Breunis (The summer volunteers)
Photo credit to Ietje Breunis (The summer volunteers)

A local farmer helped with the hay harvest, so the stock for the elephants has started.

Just now Elephand Haven are looking for a longer term volunteer to help day to day with the organisation of volunteers and daily work (which is a lot!).  They also need shorter term volunteers who can be self sufficient.  There’s local, cheap accommodation nearby: for now the charity is too small to provide accommodation directly.  You donating a self-sufficient chunk of your time is a massive help during these early days.

It’s dirty, tiring work. It’s great.

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Scraping the bark off the top 30cm of post (these posts will form supports at 45 degrees, so need cut at the top)
Scraping the bark off the top 30cm of post (these posts will form supports at 45 degrees, so need cut at the top)
Then the posts are painted to protect the exposed wood.
Then the posts are painted to protect the exposed wood.

Like last time, possibly the most rewarding part of it all is to see a couple so dedicated to getting this charity off the ground.  It’s inspirational.  You can do anything if you’re dedicated enough.  You CAN build a retirement home for ex-performing elephants in the middle of France.

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There are many, many deserving charities out there, helping people, animals, the environment, all three.  We don’t just help elephants, but there’s something about this charity that draws us in. There’s a gap.  There’s nowhere for elephants to go who are no longer allowed or needed in circuses –  nowhere, for an iconic animal  facing imminent extinction.  Perhaps it’s the finality of that which draws us.   Or maybe it’s just Sofie and Tony’s gritty determination for this elephant charity to succeed.

If you’d like to volunteer, here’s a link to Elephant Haven’s volunteer page: http://www.elephanthaven.com/en/help-out/volunteering

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