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Published: January 14th 2013
12 January 2013
Our first and only full day in Kushalnagar and we have a busy schedule. First stop is the Dubare Elephant Camp. The twenty elephants here are owned by the Karnataka Forestry Department and used to help move wood in the forest. After the initial excitement of seeing a forty year old daddy elephant and a two year old baby (too cute!), we are a bit shocked to see that they are chained together and struggle to walk far. Their eyes are also watering which makes them look so sad. They each seem to be assigned a handler; some are just young boys with sticks which have a metal hook on one end. They use these to drive the elephants and move them down towards the river. Some sit on the back of the elephants and the elephants helpfully raise their leg as a step to help the handler mount. We have been joined today by a large group of local Rotarians and their families and little Jefy is here too. She is quite a character and is very cheeky! She is a great dancer and also likes music. She tells us that she isn’t scared of elephants
but she is scared of crocodiles, there is one in her river at home apparently, so she chooses not to come into the water!
Me, Emily and Nicola brave the cold water and help to scrub down the elephants as they bathe. They are beautiful, timid creatures with hard and hairy skin. Despite the chains and sticks, they seem to be looked after well and we are able to help feed them some of their daily food intake (and they take a lot!). Instead of taking the boat back to the other side, some of us walk back across the shallow river. It feels great to be out in the sunshine! Although it’s 30 plus degrees here, we have spent most of the trip indoors so far.
The one disappointing thing about India is the rubbish which lines every street and roadside. It’s no different here and this beautiful river has its banks spoilt by litter. Next stop is a coffee research centre run by the government. I’m not a coffee drinker so it is strange to find out that coffee actually comes from a fruit. I had no idea! We head for lunch at Green Dreams, an
environmentally friendly farm retreat which is still trying to establish a reputation as a family resort which is sustainable in every way. They tents used as the accommodation are beautiful inside and this looks like a great place to come for a relaxing weekend away. The food we eat is organic too and cooked on traditional fire stoves.
In the afternoon we visit two coffee factories and some of the group get to taste the fresh coffee. It is a long process to create the coffee products. I had no idea about this. Visiting all of these factories really makes outthink about how the food products we consume make it to our plate and how many miles they have travelled in the process. We are all given some to take home as a gift.
Tonight we have given our third presentation to a Rotary Club and it goes well. We get some good feedback and many of the questions are aimed at Emily in the agriculture sector and Nicola in the food area. The club have made this a special event for us and they have brought their families along to enjoy a bonfire too. Rotary clubs here
have a much younger average membership and they provide regular activities for the whole family. It’s all a bit much for little Jefy who is sound asleep!
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