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’s short sharp charges were only met with love from Natasha who was lapping up a new friend and the attention and even showing natural maternal instincts towards baby Bona. It was something special to witness as Bona was trying to show the new arrival who the real boss was Natasha was loving having an instant baby to care for so it didn’t take long for Bona to give in and just feel the love.



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Tranquil Elephant Camp

The elephant camp of PLG Seblat is just the most magical spot looking out over the Air Seblat river while listening to nature, the gibbons and the hornbills calls ringing out over the jungles of TWA Seblat Conservation Area.

This is the location of our current project building an electric fence for the camp elephants to give them a better quality of life and a chance to socialize and breed. In more than 25 years there has never been a new born in PLG Seblat and we intende to change that and you’re welcome to come along for the ride, any support is much appreciated.



shop for elephants > elephantsofsumatra.com

support the projects > berdiri.org

support this photography project > patreon/brucelevick

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Rest Stop

Not a bad view in Sumatra to take a rest on my way to delivering a box of additional supplements to one thirsty girl. All part of hand-raising a baby elephant. My Sumatran girlfriend at the time who is now my wife helped deal with the red tape to purchase a new ride for my trips back and forth to the elephant conservation center in Seblat. A four hour journey in all. I would spend approximately 2 weeks at the elephant conservation center before returning to pick up more supplies from the city. Very rewarding process to watch a baby elephant go from a skinny little thing to a fat, happy and playful girl due to my commitment to her cause. Now the commitment continues with our other projects. Link in the bio.

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Camouflage Camera Traps

Our attempts to camouflage camera traps were met with mixed results. Poachers and loggers have an appetite for destruction if they spot a camera.

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Burning Bridges

The patrol unit of the province of Bengkulu Sumatra in the TWA Seblat Conservation Area burn a makeshift bridge used by poachers and loggers to get access deep into the conservation area for the purpose of logging and poaching endangered species. This is unfortunately a very common occurrence.

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Radio Collar Tracking

The FZS (Frankfurt Zoological Society) have been running some successful projects in the Jambi region of Sumatra. One of those being the tracking of wild elephants through the use of radio collars. By attaching a radio collar to one elephant in a herd the FZS team can effectively track the entre herd and can act quickly in the event the herd might get too close to a village. This helps prevent human/elephant conflict and further deaths of the critically endangered Sumatran elephant.

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Road Block

When you are on the way to a remote location to set camera traps and your patrol team come across a river full of water hyacinth plants for 2 kilometers. It took us 24 hours to meander our way through this mess to finally be on our way to our destination. Extending our trip by another 2 days we managed to get all cameras in place.

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Wild Elephants of Way Kambas

A gorgeous herd of wild elephants make their way across the Way Kambas National park in the early morning hours captured on the Berdiri (http://www.berdiri.org) camera traps.


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More Bad News

More bad news coming out of the province of Bengkulu in South Sumatra. Two elephant carcasses were discovered recently by villagers fishing in and around the Seblat TWA conservation area. No reports as to cause of death yet but will wait to hear any news the local conservation agency is currently investigating.

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Feeding Bona (VIDEO)

Ah remembering those days of commitment to feeding the precious Bona 4 times a day. Always the lunch time feed was very interesting, trekking into the jungle and never knowing exactly where Bona was but always she ended up finding me if I called her as she knew I had her favourite meal…

Feeding Bona from Bruce Levick on Vimeo.

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