Back home, Ramba, and Brazil

We are home…but only for a little while.

Our journey south began on the eve of Thanksgiving. In the time between then and now, we experienced more success than we could have ever hoped for. Looking back at all that was accomplished it is difficult to fathom it all took place in just 7 weeks. Brazil was simply incredible; the land, the supportive comments, media exposure, unprecedented support from everyone we met with, and elephants already lining up at the door… but we don’t even know where the door, or the gate to the property exists yet.

Before I go further, I have to apologize to those who were following our blogs but not our Facebook posts. We didn’t fall off the edge of the earth partway through our trip, but our time at our computers was grossly limited along with internet woes; while high speed internet is available around the world, there are still many places where high speed only occurs for a few seconds every 10 minutes.

Some of you may not know that we received funding to extend our stay in the southern hemisphere and travel to Chile to check up on Ramba. Just before our departure for Brazil we received some photos of Ramba that indicated a significant amount of weight loss. Our fear was that her kidney disease was progressing, which there is little that we can do to reverse but we knew that we needed to head to Chile to try to determine what was going wrong. To our surprise, we found Ramba in very good spirits; her energy was strong, her eyes were bright and she had a great appetite, but she wasn’t eating enough. The alfalfa hay she was being fed was not fabulous; it was nice and green but it was baled a little wet and some parts were molded. Instead of eating the alfalfa, Ramba would graze on the grass, but her space is too small and the grass was too short to sustain her dietary needs. We immediately starting cutting by hand, fresh tall stalks of grass and within 3 days she was already ingesting more than twice the volume of food. While we were there, Ecopolis was able to locate some very nice, grass hay that Ramba seems to adore. After just 2 weeks we could already see a little pooch of a belly starting to form. We’ll post a blog in a little bit with more photos and a more detailed update, but we’ll leave you with this photo, she is a true gem, and we simply adore her.

Our time in Chile from Christmas until January 10 was incredible. We were able to make some significant changes for Ramba but our long days and even more limited internet service left only enough time for the occasional Facebook post.

Moving forward with Brazil, everyone wants to know what is next? Right now the most fundamental question is what property will we choose. I think we are close to being able to make this decision but we are waiting for some answers to key questions about a few properties that all have incredible potential. Once we are able to make this decision we’ll be able to create a more comprehensive and thorough development plan and budget. With that information we can reach out for substantial funding to kick the project forward. The next question is always how long will it take? This depends greatly on funding, without money it is impossible to build but we have many tremendous options that will help us grossly reduce the cost for development. We are working with a company that may be able to donate pipe necessary for elephant fencing and we are working to make contact with companies that can loan or donate construction equipment and in one case the property is free! Some people have asked why we aren’t jumping at the free property, but it isn’t that simple. We are talking about taking care of elephants for the rest of their lives; we need to ensure that we are making the best decision for them, for their long term well-being. We need to think about environmental extremes, possibilities for expansion, access, regional laws on top of the basics of food water and shelter. It is imperative that we do our due diligence to ensure the short and long term success of the organization and the health of the elephants.

In the coming days, in between correspondence with our partners in Brazil, analyzing our notes and photos, preparing for a key board meeting this weekend and expanding our contacts, we will post more photos and updates to help you gain a little better perspective of all that goes into building a sanctuary.

The one answer that we do have is that Elephant Sanctuary Brazil is undoubtedly going to become a reality, the potential is incredible, the excitement in Brazil is palpable and we promised several elephants that we would be back soon; they deserve a second chance.