elephant art

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.

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Nelson of Seblat

Nelson the gentle giant and king of the land. Taking a morning stroll around the elephant conservation center overlooking the swollen Air Seblat River.

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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

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Nelson the Beautiful

I think this will be one of my favorite shots of Nelson. The big boy and KING of PLG Seblat is the gentlest giant in Sumatra. How can you not but fall in love with these amazing animals.

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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

#savetheelephants #elephants #elephantlove #elephantarmy

#donate #support #projects #conservation #animals #preciouscreatures #love #loveanimals #asianelephant #endangered #work #domore #needhelp #supportus #needyourhelp #fightforlife #wildanimals #saveelephants #elephant #elephantart #patreon #elephants_monson

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Ucok Snack Time

It is afternoon snack time and Ucok is constantly trying to fill his quota for the day. The big boy is part of the elephant conservation center of PLG Seblat in Bengkulu and will hopefully play a big part in helping grow the population of this critically endangered amazing animal.

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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

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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 “the back yard” of PLG Seblat. Hopefully to continue for many years to come and one day be a part of the breeding program to play her role in helping the amazing elephants of Sumatra.

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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

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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.

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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

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Achievements

On location delivering elephant conservation projects in PLG Seblat, Bengkulu. Projects that are officially supported and signed off on in an MoU by the government of Indonesia. You cannot tell by this photo how many rejections it took to get to this position. How many meetings, the time taken to work through all the loopholes. How many years of working through the system just to get here. This is actually years in the making this photo. Me in my official NGO tee actually achieving things and implementing projects at many points I never thought would be possible. Working through the doubters, the haters and the trolls. I could have easily given up and just focused on my photography but that will always be there. Starting from scratch creating my own local NGO with my Indonesian wife to finding enough funds and working through the system and juggling both not knowing if success will come. That is a stressful position to be in and a definite swim against the tide. I am committed to doing my part for these precious animals. It is only a small part but step by step we can implement projects that will help turn things around for the elephants of Sumatra. I thank you all for following along to this point. It only gets better from here. X

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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

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Ucok Handsome Boy

Ucok munches on grass for an afternoon snack. I love the shapes and composition of the closeup photos of elephants skillfully breaking down their food and warping their trunks to eat even the smallest of food items. He is a beautiful boy and has a great soul. Now he needs to increase his diet. Looking a little thin these days.

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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

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Robi the Prince

Robi is the prince of PLG Seblat and the best candidate for the elephant breeding program . Here he is getting his morning bath before crossing the slightly swollen Air Seblat river.

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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

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Strike a Pose

Mother and daughter strike the same pose. Standing on the banks of the Air Seblat River in north Bengkulu, Bona in the early days grew into a naughty personality as her health returned. She looks like she could be dreaming up my next 5am milk run or deciding if she is yet strong enough to take on the torrents of the river and follow Aswita across to gather food. None the less I really love this photo.

___________________________________________

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

#savetheelephants #elephants #elephantlove #elephantarmy

#donate #support #projects #conservation #animals #preciouscreatures #love #loveanimals #asianelephant #endangered #work #domore #needhelp #supportus #needyourhelp #fightforlife #wildanimals #saveelephants #elephant #elephantart #patreon #photog

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