Journal Of My 2013 Work At The Daphne Sheldrick Elephant And Rhino Orphanage

June 12, 2013 - Second Day At The Sheldrick Orphanage

The orphans are out in the bush, and I am sitting next to the resident rhino who was born blind and has been here since she was 3 month old. She is now 18 month old. I did not catch her name properly, have to ask again. All the elephant stalls have name tags with additional data. So much has changed for the better and things had to get more organized with all the elephant babies coming in larger numbers. Twenty three elephants and two rhinos keep this place busy.

As I am sitting here, I watch the keeper supplying the stalls with browse for the evening meals. It is partly cloudy. A breeze is going. The bees are buzzing, and my new rhino friend is taking a nap. A little while ago, I munched a banana and gave her the peels. Her nuzzling my hand in the process, she sent my mind back to Scotty, Magnum and Magnette, well-known rhino orphans from previous visits. I love these ancient guys too. They are lovable and need to be saved. Now she is up again, chewing happily on a pile of hay.

Oh' two warthogs just ran by - one looking at me before running behind the other into the rhino enclosure to take a mud bath in the pool. And here they come again, done with the pleasure..... passing by and off again to the bush. The smaller is taking another look at me even a short pause out of curiosity of this stranger sitting on a bench with an iPad on her leg. A little yellowish bird is picking something tasty near me and another black and white one is stepping speedily through the gaps of the wooden fencing poles to join the rhino.

Warthog
One of the local warthogs

Yesterday, I worked with "Murera," a female elephant born in 2009. Her right hind leg had been broken a while back. Protective of the injured leg, I used my blend of acupressure and TTouch (Tellington Touch) to address the left hind leg first. She did well with that, and I was able to move gradually to the injured side, gently going to the hip. She even allowed me to slide a few inches down that leg. When she got uneasy, I moved away to the more comfortable areas on her head and ears. She sure liked the back of her neck moved around and to my delight was seeking more of it.

Audio: Sound Of A Hay-Munching Rhino

June 13, 2013 - Another Day At The Orphanage

Today, I went straight over to "Maxwell," the rhino whose name had to be given to me again. And so I learned also that she was actually a he. The keepers' English can be confusing as many speak it only a little bit. As I was kneeling down, clicking at the same time softly with my ring on the metal bars of the door, Maxwell strolled right over to me, pushing his enormous horn through the space between the bars of the metal gate. I touched his soft cheeks first, making tiny circles, and he stayed very still with eyelids closing gradually. Flies like to find the wet spots on his body where the mud bath leaves its moisture. Maxwell sent an occasional muscle vibration to the spots to shake them off.

MaxInTheMud
Maxwell enjoying the pleasure of mud bathing

He liked his lips played with. His small tongue invited me for a stroke, and I thought of my banana in my bag. Bananas are wonderful treats for elephants and rhinos. Feeding him bits and pieces of the fruit was so much fun. He opened his mouth wider and wider with great enjoyment. It is heartwarming to witness pleasure of all sorts...... from food pleasures to sunshine pleasures to the mud bath ones, to napping and to the sensations of kind, mindful and conscious touch. Maxwell presented his body over and over again to me, walking away for a bit then coming back for more.

He liked the movements along his spine till close to his tail, which is an area to be explored another time when he is ready for it. A few times he took this deep breath like my human clients do on the table, and that lets me know that there was a release of tension flowing out through his big nostrils. I am quite excited about cultivating a new friendship with a rhino. Some of my human friends have seen a picture on my bookshelf, which shows me with an injured rhino, named Scotty. It dates back to 1996, when my work with exotic land animals started right here at this orphanage.

Rumbling and trumpeting announced the eles return from their daily bush outings. All of them pretty much know where their night stall is, and the milk bottle is waiting to be consumed by its eager recipients. After the milk, fresh brush brings further joy to the babies' palettes. Blankets are placed over the babies as they settle down for a hopefully good night of sleep.

Milk
Milk bottles
DrinkMilk2
Taking a drink
Ajabu
A sleeping Ele

Stepping into Murera's enclosure, I said Hello to her and the keeper in charge of her for this night. Watching her posture for a moment, I placed one hand on top of her neck and the other further down on her spine. Slowly, I started working and noticed quickly that my hand was not foreign to her anymore. She pressed her body parts into my hand where she felt she needed it. Her tail gave me the clues where she was at with her comfort level. I made very good inroads to touch more sections on her hurt leg. Trust-building is the key to success, and whatever time it takes is fine. I know I will get there, except something traumatizing happens in between sessions, which can cause a setback.

Sonje, the other female right next to Murera's enclosure, was next to be introduced to me. She also has an injured leg, and she swings this right leg out awkwardly while walking. I used the same slow approach as with her friend. She was quite friendly letting me touch her tongue actually asking for it :-). Some babies love to suckle on fingers, and the keepers acting as foster parents provide this for comfort just as with human babies. Even so we supply rather pacifiers. She did quite well on the good side of her torso, allowing me to gradually travel to the side of her hurt. I very softly massaged her hip and a tiny bit down the leg.

Then all of a sudden, she laid down ready for sleep time. I kept my hand on her hip while holding my other hand over the swollen knee, feeling for obviously-radiating heat. Floating above it for a while, I thought I might be able to risk placing the palm of my hand on the troubled spot. Well, that showed she was not yet ready for that, and she got up quickly. Soothingly, I talked her while she went on to munch on some brush. There will be another session to move further, but it was good so far for the first session. Curious, Sonje had fun exploring my curly hair with her trunk..........much to find to hold on to 🙂


June 14, 2013 - Tending to the smallest baby

She is 2 month old and is troubled by her first teeth breaking through the tender surface of her gums. Her tummy is not feeling well, causing diarrhea, which is always a reason of concern for the keepers. Medicine mixed with milk was bottle-fed to her - not the most tasty cocktail to consume guessing by the way this adorable little girl suckled.

I tenderly laid my hands on her to make contact. She was a bit restless and moved around some. It took not long, and I found an enjoyable spot on her buttocks next to the tail. Her signals were obvious, pressing into my hand not moving an inch away. There is nothing better than receiving this non verbal way of communication. She got very calm. She relaxed with what I was doing and drank better too.

Her tiny body is very hairy. The top of her head is dotted with soft, inch-long hair making it inviting to stroke over. In my time with her, the other areas of her small body took well to the touch modalities. "Ajabu" has all the loving people one could wish to have at her side, and for the time being I am honored to be one of them. I am having my visit with Maxwell under the threat of approaching rain. All the rain we are having leaves Maxwells enclosure quite muddy but colorful. The earth has a rich, Henna-red-like tone, and the white- and black-colored birds add an artsy aspect to the image. The air carries the moisture of lingering rain, suggesting the beginning of an untimely season. Weather patterns, as everywhere in the world, are changing here too. Oops! My big friend just disappeared into his stall leaving piles of hay behind him. I think he is ready for a power nap 🙂 I witness the daily routine of the keepers who are passing by my bench with supplies for the orphans. It looks like the sun tries to break through and perhaps chase the rain away. This morning at the camp was cold and damp. Backpackers arrived from other countries with little warm cloth to comfort themselves.

Audio: Tenderly Talking With Maxwell - Part 1
Audio: Tenderly Talking With Maxwell - Part 2

June 17, 2013 - A morning at a Nairobi court

Kibera Law Court was my destination this morning. I hopped out of my warm bed at 6:15 a.m. - not a time night owl Elke is used to 🙂 My taxi driver, John, arrived pretty much on time, and we made our way through town with all kinds of shortcuts in order to avoid some of the heavy morning traffic. John is a skilled driver, but we almost got stuck in the mud on one of the unpaved back roads. Luckily, two men who were walking by gave as a push, and slowly off we went. It was a bit of an adventure passing through the edges of Nairobi’s largest slum, if you can even say that word about a 1/2 million people.

The wetness of the day with low hanging clouds added to the depressing image of how people have to manage to live their daily life. There is no running water and hardly any toilets, something none of us westerners can envision to exist. We passed another slum, not as big but still substantial, before we pulled up at the court gate. The taxi was examined by the security guard before we could drive into the compound.

We got there early, at 7:45 a.m., and everything was still mellow. John was so kind and inquired on the court room, which would hear Soila Sayialel's case. Through the tinted glass window of the car, I watched the arriving vehicles spilling out people of all ages and class. I was curious of what will come. John was told the hearing will be in Room 4. Leaving the car, I saw a line had formed to enter the building. Security checked bags, and everyone had to walk through a metal detector.

The courtroom filled with increasing speed with people squeezing themselves into the benches. Outside and inside, I was the only white face to see. It is a bit of an odd feeling, and I felt kind of out of place. After a while of sitting, watching the judiciary handling paper piles, John and I thought we better check personally the listing of names and cases on a wall board outside.

We read everything that was posted and could not find Soila's name. “How strange is this,” I thought. We went inside again to check with a clerk, but nobody was free to assist us. When we used the stairs from upstairs down, I glanced out the window, and there was Soila standing with a group of people. “What should I do?” I asked myself, “Do I go and meet her, or wait for the courtroom?” My driver suggested that the hearing may have been postponed. When he nudged me to talk with her, she spotted me, and I walked over to greet her. After embracing, she waved her lawyer over, introducing him to me. He immediately took charge of the conversation.

When I asked Soila what happened, she said that she and her son gave a woman a ride into town. The woman left her ivory-filled bag in the car. They stopped at a restaurant to eat. The woman disappeared. The lawyer talked a lot about the KWS (Kenyan Wildlife Service) and undercover officers coming into the restaurant where Soila was arrested along with her son. I got a bit confused with various aspects the lawyer presented. There was talk of where the car was parked and then the KWS car. Kenyan English can be challenging to follow.

Anyhow, there I stood listening while Soila held my hand to her body. Honestly, I don't know what to believe. Briefly, I also met her son, who was standing with other young men nearby. Soila shared how horrible her one night in prison was with nothing but the naked floor to sleep on and how much she cried there and since.

Ol Tukai, the safari lodge, kicked her off of the grounds. Additionally, she is banned from the Amboseli National Park. She is, at the moment, living with her nephew in Nairobi. What appeared strange was the fact that her name was not listed on the courtwall board and that she only had to be on the grounds letting her lawyer deal with everything else inside. He then said to me that KWS has to apologize to Soila for tarnishing her name. KWS claimed to have its eye on her related to ivory smuggling since 2009.

The whole situation of this case left me confused about what is true and what is not. Kenya is plagued with corruption, and it is hard to sort through this. Certainly, it is not my place to do so. Soila Sayialel has done much for the survival of elephants and worked for a long time with world-renowned researcher Cynthia Moss. This fact makes it hard to believe in what she was accused of.


June 17, 2013 – Long session with Murera

Yesterday, Murera made another stride in trusting being touched on her injured leg. She held very still when I took time to use various movement around her hip joint. It must have felt good. Working a little further down, I found that she was still fine, but I decided to leave the area for other body parts like the head, by rubbing the forehead and the back of her neck close to the ears, places she had liked the previous days.

Addressing her healthy but over-worked hind leg is important to include in every session, and I spent a good amount of time on it. In between eating her browse, while my hands did their work, she smelled my bananas and likely remembered where I had them the day before. She searched for my bag, which sat high up and in the back of the keepers sleeping platform. She was sneaky in every way to get to it, quite funny to watch. Toward the end of the session I met a woman who was able to reach through the stall gate and stroked her on the injured side of her body - not at the leg/hip but not to far away - and she was fine. This is a major change.

Afterwards, I entered Sonje’s adjoining night quarters, but my session with her had to be cut short because it was her bedtime. Phillip, her night-keeper filled me in on her sleeping pattern, and therefore I will work with her first next time. She has a sweet personality, quite gentle and heart-warming how she guided my hand into her mouth. Tickling and massaging her tongue delighted her as much as many of my adult elephant clients.

Mindful touch with the intention to provide love, comfort, pleasure and compassion are such key elements in relating to all species. Elephants teach us wonderfully how to stretch out a hand / trunk to a friend. These subtle energetic exchanges are soul food to higher places of being. Ajabu is doing well again. She moved through what troubled her to everyone's relief. Her eyes are bright. She is alert, greeting me with a friendly trunk, wiggling, reaching out toward my face.


June 17, 2013 – Maxwell

Wow! What an enormous penis.... huh! I had not seen a rhino one before. When I massaged his cheeks and neck, suddenly out of the corner of my eye, I noticed something moving. Well, that was his potent reproductive organ in full bloom. Another moment came as he wandered away from me to find his freshly dropped browse. He stopped and sprayed straight out - like something coming out of a garden hose - his urine into the wooden fence. Part of marking his territory. Impressive to see!

Rhino Penis
A rhino's penis

Maxwell's face displayed some interesting face painting today. He had green stripes along his impressive horns and spots of green on his face. The gate showed to be freshly painted but not quite dry enough yet to endure a rhino’s head rubbing and reaching for tasty morsels handed out to him. I wondered how well the paint will come off, but in the meantime he looked quite decorated 🙂 Our togetherness has everyday a slightly different quality with precious moments of that heart-opening closeness that ultimately makes you smile throughout your day. Maxwell takes good care of his needs for touch. He has no shyness to ask for it in stark contrast to the human animal. I love to witness and provide what shapes the moment - what makes life as rich, full and exciting as we want it to be.

FacePaint
Maxwell's "painted" face

I am a bit tired to write a lot more, but in brief, today's session with Sonje was the best. Building and building further trust she let me TTouch (Tellington Touch) her entire swollen knee, and I could even let my fingers wander all the way to her ankle. Yeah!!!! Such progress! Things went well with Murera too. and I was introduced to another ele-baby, called Kwale, who had trouble with on and off diarrhea. She had gotten shots in her butt and was very unsure about me and what I might be up to. I always feel bad when eles have to get shots. Through years of experience, I usually can tell that something medical has been done without caretakers telling me about it. The demeanor signals it all and speaks for itself.


June 19, 2013 – More of my friend Maxwell

It is always precious to have the trust of an animal and to be able to listen to the subtle clues from the being under my hands. A peaceful, unpressured environment is the best to have a relationship to develop. No pressure from other people's agendas and unconscious disrespect for silence provides the flow when healing can unfold. Having a less uptight environment, in contrary to our western culture, brings an ease where I can feel spiritually at home and can be my best.

Maxwell will spent the rest of his life here at the orphanage and for same-species companionship he enjoys periodic visits from rhino " Solio" now being able to live in the wild but who comes when he pleases to eat or just to stroll around. Maxwell could not get enough of asking me to lay my hands on him. From cheeks to nose, mouth, ears, his back and towards his belly he positioned himself accordingly. It is this "asking" coupled with the "human listening" that is the building block of friendship and greater understanding of species with a non-human language. I have to note that Maxwell is 7 years old and not 18 months, which is what I wrote previously. I should have known looking at him, but I got confused with a keepers broken English.

Smiling my way through the days here with all the slangs and limited language abilities around me and nevertheless truly enjoying it. Here are some recordings again being and tending to Maxwell. Six gazelles just run through with amazing speed ...... disappearing in a flash into the safety of the bush.

My quote of the day: When people are less in their Hearts and more in their Fears, the flow of Love gets compromised. Life has risk and you have to be willing not to make safety your all-consuming fact of existence. ' elke

Audio: Tenderly Talking With Maxwell With Bodywork - Part 1
Audio: Tenderly Talking With Maxwell With Bodywork - Part 2

June 20, 2013 - Lions - and more

Note: Accompanied by their acting-foster-parent keepers, elephant babies are taken out every day so that they can get to know about life in the bush. Every night, they are taken to the stockade to protect them from predators.

Trumpeting and screams filled the air as I heard the voices of the keepers talking to the running babies. Here they came early, not yet time to go into their night stalls. “What is happening?” I ask myself. There was confusion. The babies had their ears flared out, all alarmed about something. The group of keepers ran over to them, gesturing and guiding them back into the bush. Shortly after this, I learned of three lions chasing after a group of gazelles right close to the babies. Oh boy! That was truly scary for this youngsters and very upsetting.

Running to safety (and milk bottles) after a lion scare

The big cats are taking a liking to the premises of the orphanage because they learned that, besides passing-by gazelles, warthogs enjoy staying close to elephants. Warthogs do this for two reasons - one, for added protection due to the presence of the human parental figures and two, these hairy, funny looking creatures delight in feasting on the left-over hay around rhino Maxwell's enclosure. Lions are drawn to warthogs, and freshly-killed ones are often found by the keepers the next day.

Things have changed in the 10 years of my absence. Lions are now a conversation piece. I hear them roaring at night at my Eco camp. Don't get me wrong. I am glad to experience the close existence of lions. They play an important role in the Ecosystem. Sadly, lions are threatened. Farmers kill them with poisoned food.

Back to elephants: I calmed Kwale (1/12 years old) greatly tonight. When I stepped into his stall, he was instantly alarmed, ears out ready for attack mode. The keeper called on him, and so did I in a comforting voice. Nevertheless, he charged toward me, and I put my hand on his forehead to stop him. His keeper started rubbing him, sweet-talking too. I gave him space before touching his back. His belly was going in and out with heavy breathing, quivering a bit, his nervous system on the edge from getting daily shots in his hind legs for intestinal disturbances. Gradually, he warmed up to me by learning I was no threat, and the energy shifted into calmer waters. Eventually, he responded very well to my touches, and we parted in a mutually peaceful state of mind. Kwale was born on November 2011 and found at Shimba Hills near the coast.

Next to Kwale's stall sleeps his friend Balguda. He was born on November 2011 and found at Tsavo East Nat. Park. Like Kwale, this 1 1/2 year old boy also showed signs of intestinal troubles, and I was asked to tend to him. He was visibly not feeling well, standing with his head down in the corner. When I massaged his cheeks, I instantly felt I had reached the state of his spirit. He merged with my fingers. He snuggled against my body and even sought my fingers for suckling. A reviving of some sort is usually what I am looking for. Next day, Balguda could not get enough of the tiny circles I was making on his forehead......his trunk resting relaxed on the ground, softly breathing....he had entered a trance state.


June 22, 2013 - Ithumba (elephant orphan release side into the wild)

Awesome place it is.... Wow! Majestic bulls are trusting to be in our presence. Long tusks are gracing their bodies, ears flapping and held out wide to check on us. They are coming daily to drink at the water trough filled regularly by the Sheldrick Trust to quench their thirst. Listen to my recording if you would like to get more of an impression.

We are four in our group, a couple from Poland, an American woman from Philadelphia and myself. We are staying at a Sheldrick-run lodge from where we daily visit the stockade to see the orphans. This is a very wild place with vast vistas over the bush with plateaus and big-boldered mountains to attach your eyes too. Twenty elephants from 2 to 4 years of age are residing here and being encouraged to meet their wild cousins. Last night we watched and touched them as they were having their evening meal at the stockade before it was time to sleep and rest for the adventures of the next bush-roaming day.

Ithumba

The lodge is wonderful, very African and rustic by nature. The wind is blowing through the open design with a thatched roof and a second story with a great view all around. This is heaven on earth! Birds are providing, along with the wind, an exquisite musical ambiance. Milk bottles are waiting to be emptied by little, hungry, gray bodies emerging from the bushes ..... it is elephantine lunch time. The sound of gurgling milk put a smile on our faces. How quickly they consume one liter of milk is quite amazing!

This man-made oasis, which is a relief center, entails a water source and a small pond. It is not only a playground for the water- and mud-loving elephant orphans. No, it is also a meeting point for big-tusked elephant bulls. This stately wild giants are brave to let us be close to them. They feel safe with the orphans and visa versa. One little orphan bulls already is practicing to go his own way, staying longer with the big ones before joining the orphan group to move on.

Audio: Soft-Spoken Comments On The Interactions Of Orphans And Their Wild Cousins - Part 1
Audio: Soft-Spoken Comments On The Interactions Of Orphans And Their Wild Cousins - Part 2

June 27, 2013 - Balguda and Kwale

Little trunks may or may not greet me when I enter their stalls. Sometimes, these babies are busily munching on the browse they get in the evening hours. Visiting foster parents come by inquiring on the babies’ history. Some people are mindful in behavior. Others have still to learn how to do so. The keepers are patiently asking reoccurring questions.

Balguda's session began with the usual laying of hands on the ridges of his spine. Keeping his keeper close by provides that familiar comforting presence of someone well known. Balguda has not fully overcome his intestinal imbalance and was to get another shot. I TTouched (Tellington Touched) him for a while till several keepers arrived to hold him for the application of another needed shot of medicine. He did not struggle much this time and luckily it was over quickly.

Giving him first a little space to breath and to know it was over, I approached him gently and with soothing words. Remembering how much he liked his head massaged, I applied the same movements of my fingers as he had gotten to experience from me before. Profoundly relaxing with every minute he travelled into a trance state...... where breathing is slowed down and eyes are closed. When I tenderly circled his cheeks and a bit down his trunk, he let out a soft sigh and placed his warm trunk into the palm of my hand. There it stayed still till I had to say my nightly goodbye.

Kwale, in the other stall, is watching what I am doing with his friend. His trunk comes exploring through the gaps of the wooden boards touching me if in reach to see/feel what's up there on the other side. His health seems delicate. He receives what I am doing but is affected if there is outside commotion. I try to convey to the staff that silence during the sessions deepens the healing experience for the elephant. I am aware that subtle things like this may not be easily understood.

Addressing and healing traumas of all sorts requires more than what meets the eye, and that applies to all species - human or non-human. Kwale, further on in the session, embraced the slow and deliberate movements I was doing on his buttocks, tail area and upper legs plus even the side of his belly where I can feel a restricted breathing pattern. Sending lots of love into his body and wishing him a restful sleep, I stepped away quietly.


July 1, 2013 - 23 elephant babies .....

Yesterday, I went to every stall and looked at the data listed on wooden signs at the nightly homes of my beloved elephantine friends.

Sign
Wooden Sign

Names are created according to the areas where each baby was found, and here they are: Naipoki, Ishaq B, Laragai, Bomani, Orwa, Lima Lima, Ngasha, Kwale, Balguda, Quanza, Kihari, Aruba, Narok, Teleki, Tundani, Basilinga, Faraja, Jasiri, Kithaka, Lemonyian, Ajabu, Murera, Sonje, and then there is permanent resident rhino Maxwell. Rhino Solio, a graduate from the orphanage and now living in the wild, still comes to occasionally visit his former home.

I can't connect with all of them as there is only so much time in a day. All orphans have gone through traumatic experiences before they were rescued by the Sheldrick Trust. My focus is on the ones who have more pronounced physical or psychological issues that I am asked to tend to.

Maxwell had a rhino-of-a-time basking in the sun flinging away the flies with his whip-like tail. Coming over to see me when he felt it was right to connect. His ear seems to be a pleasant spot to let minutes pass by. Then he invited me to move my hand over his torso all the way over and down to his big belly. Oh' and their was that soft mushy mouth area he enjoyed to have manipulated proceeded by opening his mouth to get his tongue tickled.

Balguda has turned the corner with health and well-being all mirrored in his behavior during the day. That said, he was pushy when I entered his stall and moved to his behind. Memories of the shots linger for a while, and his mind was definitely going there. It was written in his face, and I talked lots with him. His keeper stroked his cheeks tenderly while sweet-talking. Lovely to witness some of this men in such motherly fashion. I did not know how well Balguda's last injection went. Perhaps it was more painful. Giving shots to a baby his size requires some manpower with at least 6 or 7 guys holding him. They do it well and as kindly as possible under the circumstances.

Kwale fell asleep early snoring softly along with the sound of powerful episodes of flatulence. It is part of a nightly going-around and a quite adorable musical potpourri of a special kind. 🙂 And then there is Jeri, an orphaned pet gazelle who is nuzzling me endlessly and could not stop doing so. Kissed by a gazelle so passionately with a feather-like sensation floated me up into another realm of being alive. Never have I been kissed like this...... Cross-species relations are so full of wonder and perfect openers to one’s heart.

Later, I watched Jeri standing up to a warthog facing nose-to-nose for a long moment. It was Jeri's home turf, and she made that clear in her behavior. They parted peacefully. Warthogs here just roam around about everywhere on the premises open to the surrounding bush.

Sessions with Murera and Sonje keep going well. I share with the keeper in charge what I am doing with the intention to perhaps stimulate desires of a wider knowing of healing. I have offered doing a teaching session with a group of them, but none of these men have put their name down at the head keeper’s office. I know some of them do watch me attentively and ask a question here and there. I am constantly fascinated about the energetic components which each day brings.

SonjeAndMurera
Sonje and Murera

My ele friends are so much like us, I can quite well read their faces, sense the mood and how quickly it can change. Man-made human noise is a major component in my long years of observing animals in captive environments. Crowds that often have no clue on the effects of sound are not good for the psyche of animals.

An orphanage keeper mentioned a big group of people coming for a private viewing of the elephants’ mud bath time and how that stirred up emotions. It reflected in Balguda's behavior in the evening. I sensed it and understood completely. Things like this I feel especially when on the grounds of zoos, which are mostly entertainment centers, but the orphanage is certainly not a zoo. It has a completely different philosophy and purpose: a return to their rightful home in the wild.

Stimulated by my conversation with this keeper on the emotional impact people can have on animals, I want to write a bit of what I’ve learned in reference to the noise that is created in the captive environments of countless world-wide animal entertainment centers. My experiences with multiple aspects of animals in captivity will be described in more detail in my upcoming book.

Humans have trapped themselves in an exploitative paradigm when they expose animals to different energies from all sides and directions with no choice to escape. This is the dilemma. Agency is a concept I wish all species to have access to. It is up to the human species to change and abolish an old and outdated belief system. Talking repeatedly to a wise Massai men from Samburu my heart and soul is joyed by the meeting of minds, of spirit, of love....... Often in the western world I feel alone.

Often, people who care for animals have erected internal barriers to protect themselves from feeling a greater depth of being. The heart is blocked when sensitivity is missing. Regrettably, our western culture has created a soulless society and has transported it to the rest of the world. Consumerism has been communicated to be the joy of life. Sadly, this is affecting cultures who still know how to live in harmony with all life forms.

May we keep learning from each other and make Love the centerpiece of our life's ' elke


July 4, 2013 - Nature

Clouds floating below the blue sky creating images of faces, animal bodies, mountains, you name it. They are perfect to let your fantasy unfold. Birds are flying into the space between the clouds, and sizable warthogs are eating shrubs nearby. I am taking in what my ears and eyes experience at this particular moment. There is a stillness coming from the landscape, a peaceful energy that envelops everything.

Insect buzzing from bushes to trees, and so does the variety of small and large birds. The ever present warthogs stroll around minding their business. Little Ajabu wandered back with her keeper to the stockade. A small plane is flying over, perhaps on its way to Amboseli National Park or another destination to see wildlife. Occasionally, this edge of Nairobi's National Park reminds one of the pulsing nearby urbanization.

Suddenly, trumpeting in the distance connects the dreaming mind with the elephants. What was just communicated I ask myself???..... Oh! And here they come, running along with flapping ears on a well-worn path to have a cooling mid-afternoon mud bath. Splashing mud on the body is an unmistakable elephantine joy! Nothing could be more fun than this collective pleasure. And witnessing all this makes me want to join in 🙂 Besides all that these little ones have endured and experienced, they do heal and certainly can embrace the joy of what being alive can bring.

~ my quote of the day
The longing for harmonizing with what keeps this planet alive is imbedded in all of us, yet modern life acts as a distracting force. ' elke