At the end of last month, the Knysna Elephant Park (KEP) sponsored Love Knysna Projects to take a busload of disadvantaged, primary school kids for a trip to experience their wonderful elephants. With the exception of 3 kids from Hornlee and 1 from town central, the kids were from Judah Square, the Rastafari ‘village’ in the Knysna suburb, Khayalethu South.
Their excitement was as amazing to me as the elephants were to them. Even before the bus had stopped, they were screaming with anticipation. In the bus, the air hummed with their positive vibes. At the park, they were in awe.
The tour started in the museum where Greg Vogt gave the kids a basic yet informative introduction. They were particularly interested in feeling elephant teeth in a skull Greg provided. After a video about “do’s and don’t’s” when in an elephant’s presence, we were shown the shed where they slept at night as well as the plants they strip bark from.
A tractor ride (fun in itself) later and we were in a field with half a dozen elephants ranging from a ‘baby’ at 5 years to the matriarch at 25. There were those initial moments of fear mixed with awe before the kids were happily rubbing the elephants’ rough hide and ‘feeding’ their trunks.
From the staff at the counter to the handlers, we were in good hands. I haven’t come across such a good staff compliment in a very long time. They were friendly and always happy to teach us. Extra thanks to Melanie Vogt who delivered yummy lunch to the playground where the kids were given playtime. That playground of swings and tunnels wasn’t taken for granted because they don’t have one at home. They were almost as excited by it as the elephants:)
Topping the day was that we were invited to bring more children in the future so that the Knysna Elephant Park can further install their conservation values and give back to the community. They also provided us the above video this week.
Thanks to the volunteers who helped out on the day. it couldn’t have been done without you. 3 cheers to Sista Julian, Sista Kerri, Christy Jacobs, Brian Bird and Leanne Logan.