After Bona started returning to health from the early days of bottle feeding it was decided by the mahouts of PLG Seblat that she needed some simple training with the support of an NGO vet to keep an eye on proceedings. Due to Bona’s circumstances she could never be re-released back into the wild so for her and the camp staffs best interest it was very important for her to receive some simple training for her life in the camp and to help on the elephant patrols in the future. Let me be clear there is no “CRUSHING” or “BREAKING OF THE SPIRIT” here in Sumatra as you might find in some parts of Thailand still. Bona’s training included being tethered to a larger male elephant (Nelson) and being gently led around the camp with fruit treats to reward her for a good job when following her new orders. Bona in the early days learnt the simple commands to start and stop walking, commands given to her by her regular mahout. She was very receptive but would often loose patience and in times of rest she would often play with her tether and try to remove it. Understandably. Bona is a big 6 year old now and has adjusted very well to her camp life. She sometimes looks like she has ambitions to rule the camp one day and occasionally the senior elephants have to let her know who is boss.
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If you want to support my documentation work and some of my projects directly related to the conservation of this amazing species you can head to some of the links below.