The Orphans

Lets Drink to Make a Difference

A year ago I was contacted by an entrepreneur named Brent Scott. He was in the processing of developing teas for conservation initiatives and wanted permission to use two images of Bona. I was happy to oblige as anything that helps in wildlife conservation in terms of product development is something the world needs more of. Now the products are finally here and Brent’s hard work is all coming to fruition.

The world needs more people like Brent Scott creating products that make a difference like this amazing kindred spirits tea that was created to support wildlife conservation. Bona’s flavour is Chocolate Vanilla Chai Tea. A percentage of the profits are donated towards supporting individual causes. Read the Kindredspiritstea mission statement here and purchase the teas here.

Chocolate Vanilla Chai Tea

Chocolate Vanilla Chai Tea

Vanilla Black Tea

Vanilla Black Tea

Midnight Blue Chamomile Tea

Midnight Blue Chamomile Tea

Cherry Blossom Green Tea

Cherry Blossom Green Tea

Coconut Mint Green Tea

Coconut Mint Green Tea

Read more

Baby Bona Finding Strength

The story of Bona finding her strength.

This photo is available on the online store as a print. The proceeds go a long way in Sumatra to support this work.

Bona’s family of 7 adults fell prey to the poisonous fruits placed by palm oil farmers. These poisonous fruits are there to prevent “pests” from disturbing the farms. It is true. To the locals elephants are considered PESTS!
Within a 24 hour period Bona had lost her mother and entire herd of 7 adults. Bona was only saved by the fact that she was only 6 months old at the time and was not yet eating solids.

After 3 days of wandering through the palm oil plantations lost and alone Bona was finally rescued and brought to a government run elephant conservation center in Bengkulu, Sumatra specifically organized for “problem elephants” that come into conflict with locals and enter villages.

Bona’s First 6 months was a tumultous period of attempting to find her the right supplements for her milk. Early attempts from locals were not successful and Bona suffered from severe malnutrition until the right formula was found from Australia. Bona’s transformation from near death to a healthy young girl in the space of only a few months was amazing to witness and to personally take on the responsibility of hand raising Bona for 7 months, feeding 4 times a day and often having Bona waking me up at 5am for breakfast. This is something that will last with me forever.

This particular photo was taken during the first two weeks of attempting the new milk formula for Bona. You can see how malnourished Bona is and see her bone structure. This is a very personal photo for me. Bona had attached herself to her surrogate mother Aswita at the elephant conservation center. Every afternoon the elephants are taken across the river to collect their food for the night. In the early days Bona was too weak to follow across the river. So still feeling the raw sense of abandonment from losing her entire family, Bona would stand as close to the river as possible and simply wail and scream at the top of her lungs at Aswita. She could not handle at all being left alone for even 5 minutes. Aswita would also respond in kind, as if to say “just hold on for a minute, I will be right back”.

To sit there and listen to a 1 year old elephant scream at the top of her lungs is a guttural and heart breaking sound to experience. So to me this photo brings me right back to that moment. I can still hear the cries today. But of course Bona is now a very strong and healthy 7 year old and crossing the river on her own is now just part of her daily ritual.

This print is now available on the online store. Any support for my work is much appreciated where proceeds go to our elephant projects and documentary photography book Elephants of Sumatra – The Final Stand.

Read more

Wow How Bona Has Grown

Wow how Bona has grown!! What a difference 6 years makes for Bona. From mid 2012 when she was just a tiny little girl with no spirit and no energy to the gorgeous (and still naughty) big girl she has become today. Showing all her brothers and sisters who the real boss is. She is in incredible health these days enjoying her time floating around

Read more

The Orphans

Remembering Agam. The precious orphan of Aceh despite the support never pulled through.

The orphans of the elepghants of Sumatra are unfortunately the result of the issues we as humans create. Elephants naturally travel in large herds and the infants will feed from the mother for sometimes up to two years or more prior to moving full time onto solid foods. A baby elephant will become separated and is (unfortunately often) orphaned for many reasons in Sumatra.

1. From falling into the many unused wells and unable to escape, the herd will move on leaving the baby with just pure luck of being found by locals and brought back to the nearest elephant conservation centers to be cared for.

2. Herds will often wander into nearby oil palm plantations. Elephants and any other wildlife for that matter are considered PESTS by the locals and often poisoned fruit is left for the elephants to consume and within a short period will die. In the case of infant elephants that are not yet on solid foods they will be left next to their non responsive family whaling for them to wake up. Again it is pure luck if these orphans are discovered and brought back to the nearest elephant conservation center.

3. Inside all protected forests on the island of Sumatra there are many battles to save all endangered species. Forest police and patrols alike carrying out surveys checking for illegal activity and often coming across snares that are left for tigers or sun bears. Sometimes these snares inadvertently capture baby elephants. Again it is the case where the family herd will move on if the baby cannot be released from such an awful trap. Again with any luck these babies are discovered and cared for by the nearest elephant conservation center.

It is hard to know how many orphans there are every year within the forests of Sumatra. We only know of the documented ones that are discovered by chance. Sometimes these stories have a happy ending and sometimes they do not. But we as humans must keep fighting and righting the wrongs that we have created.

___________________________________________

TO SUPPORT OR DONATE FOLLOW THESE LINKS OR LINK IN BIO

Donate online > elephantsofsumatra.com
Support the many elephant projects > berdiri.org
Support the elephants of Sumatra documentary photography project > patreon/brucelevick

Read more

Bona Feels the Love

Interesting story behind this photo and greeting from Bona to a new arrival.

THE BACK STORY: For an estimated 17 years two Sumatran elephants named Natasha and Dino would entertain the locals on the beach front of Bengkulu, Sumatra, Indonesia. Taking kids and families for rides up and down the beach on most days. Until one evening a local man broke into their holding area and from all accounts began to antagonize the big boy Dino by playing with his nether region. Sorry my safest description. This did not end well for the local man and I am sure you can use your imagination to fill that gap.

THE RESULT: After this unfortunate event Natasha and Dino were ordered to be transported to the elephant conservation center 4 hours north of Bengkulu. They were transported in the evening hours and arrived at the camp late in the evening. I was at the camp upon their arrival still hand feeding Bona on a daily basis. I remember their arrival and the shrill sounds of panic coming from both Natasha and Dino in the middle of the night who only ever knew life among crowds living on the beach. Who had only had each other for company for 17 years. The wild pigs were not a familiar sight and would fill them with fear and elephants screaming is not a sound one can sleep on.

THE NEXT DAY: Upon the morning light Bona had decided to investigate the new arrivals focusing on Natasha Bona put on a confused show of dominance and love for Natasha, which was hilarious to view. Bona

Read more

Big Girl Bona

While working on implementing the Breeding Program project in Seblat, Bengkulu it was nice to take some time out to see my baby girl Bona. I have been so busy in Sumatra so it has been a little while since catching up with Bona. She still remembers and still likes to remind me who the boss always is. It wouldn’t be Bona if she wasn’t still a little naughty.
Now Bona is a plump 700kg+ and in great health and truly getting big and as loud as ever trumpeting away at other family members if anyone annoys her or steps on her toes. Links and info below to follow and support my elephant projects.

___________________________________________
TO SUPPORT AND BUY PRINTS

shop for elephants > elephantsofsumatra.com
support the projects > berdiri.org
support this photography project > patreon/brucelevick

#elephants #elephantart #elephantlove #elephantarmy #pareonartist #creator #patreoncreator #patreon #photog #savetheelephants #patreonpage #patreonphotographer #documentaryphotography #elephantprint #elephantshirt #elephantsarecool #support #donations #needhelp

Read more

Visitor in the Night

Morning, Day or Night it was whenever Bona was Hungry that she would wake me demanding to be fed.

Read more

Curious Little Bona

Gorgeous little Bona tries to get a taste of what Aswita her surrogate mother is munching on. One of my favourite photos of this whole campaign.

Read more

Sunrise with Elephants

This was my morning view for 7 whole months bottle feeding baby Bona. Most mornings she would knock on my cabin door at 5am trying to wake me up so she could get her morning milk. This particular morning she never came knocking but I found her in front of my cabin munching on the grass in the field. I think this was the signal of change for her feeding habits.

Read more

Hairy Legs

Too cute! Bona munches on a selection of fruit. Take a look at those hairy legs. Took this photo before Bona could learn to kick out with her hind legs.

Read more