Elephants are not “parts”…

We’re back in Thailand now after a challenging time working in Myanmar on several deeply saddening elephant situations. The trade of what some may call “elephant parts”, but we call “pieces of the bodies of sentient beings”, with every possible bit of these innocent animals being sold to the highest bidder. It is the most complex movement of illegal trade we’ve seen, and it was heartbreaking, eye opening, and never, ever, what it seemed.

From Myanmar, the main market for the the ivory, and the tail hair and elephant skin, is China. The market for elephant skin in China is huge. And this is, if it’s possible, more tragic than the ivory, as the murdering of entire elephant families and herds is done for skin. For the tusks, you need the big papas. For the skin, any age is a target…

CITES is slated to be held in Sri Lanka at the end of May 2019, and we’ll be there. It’s a bleak time for elephants, but more and more people around the world are fighting for the survival of the remaining wild ones, and for the humane treatment of those held captive. United we stand, in hopes that together, we can reverse the tragedy before it is too late as we fight for what’s right, for a kinder world for us all. We won’t give up, and we know you won’t either.



Their Glowing Hands

I’m walking home along the narrow road to the guesthouse after a long day in the field, and a motorbike cannot avoid the cat that darted from the thick undergrowth into its path, not 20 steps in front of me.  In a surreal moment, I watched myself running up to the cat that was covered in blood, staggering and convulsing. I don’t speak any of the languages here and I plead with them in English “doctor? vet? help?” And they shake/nod their heads and take off on their bike.

Carrying the shuddering cat into the shade, I just don’t know what to do. Are the boys coming back? She can’t drink water, and the only place she will let me touch her in her agony is her head. So I gently stroke her head. I chant the Gayatri Mantra, a comfort for me which I can only hope then offers a comfort for her. Watching her begin to cross over makes me so mad, just so seethingly mad at the suffering of the other animals (captive elephants and monkeys) witnessed over the  last 36 hours.  5 minutes that felt like hours and she’s starting to cough and I can feel her fading and I can’t do anything for her crumpled little body except gently stroke her head.

Then I heard a bike, and the boys have brought some men. They were not vets or doctors, in fact, due to language, I don’t who they were. But they gently placed their hands upon her—their GLOWING hands, so gently—and she crossed over, free from her pain. We covered her in flowers and laid her in the underbrush. They left without a word. I walked up the steep hill to where I’m staying. 

I went back and forth about posting the photo, well-blurred, of their gentle glowing hands resting so tenderly upon her, yet wanted to share how even without a common spoken language, their Compassionate Action was felt by her, and by me, and radiated outwards. There is simply no limit to the energetic shift of suffering when we willingly shine our light directly upon whatever suffering may be In front of us. All together now…

The challenges reveal themselves…

It’s been a very gut-wrenching week, filled with deep sadness at the suffering of so many animals, and the recognition of what it will take to start the shift towards kindness and compassion.  It’s easy to give up when the road ahead seems impossible to navigate, and those are the times we reach for poetry, music, or meditation (usually all 3), to keep the Heart awake to the potential for positive change, even when it is hidden, deeply, from view.

Today we sat at the foot of this temple to reconnect to why we do what we do, and how all great change has always necessitated believing in hope when there seemed to be little about.  The tiny bells topping all of the spires created a music in the breeze, and remembered how faith and hope go hand in hand, and action follows suit.  

“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in”.

Following Leonard Cohen around this week, with a song and a ?. 

The Heart in Myanmar

We’ve arrived in Myanmar, and and although current governmental humanitarian issues challenge visiting, it’s a country filled with friendly people, expansive and impressive mountain ranges, and stunning temples.  And yet sadly, as often is the case, greed in the government offers  next to no welfare laws (if any at all) for wild and captive elephants, to catastrophic ends.  With juvenile elphants being gifted to Russia scores of elephants sent to China for circuses and Thailand for tourism, and a quiet transport of elephants with Sri Lanka, the elephants of this country have a long fight ahead for freedom.

The individual people we have met, however, have been relentlessly kind, eager to learn about the rest of the world, and generous in their time and smiles.  The work ahead is filled with challenges, but along the way there is colorful goodness to be treasured as well.


It’s not just about the elephant…

We’re in Southern Thailand again, sharing the word about Humane Tourism for the upcoming “high-season” when hoards tourists come to Thailand, many of them not knowing the cruelty endured by many captive elephants in the tourist industry. At the same time, we reach out to the local children, helping them look at the jungle habitat they share with many wild animals with a sense of wonder and awe.  One of the reasons I like spending many months at a time living in the local areas (as opposed to the “tourist” areas) is how it allows me to be a part of the neighborhood, instead of  a nameless face passing through.

Yesterday I was very sad to see that this beautiful snake had been killed, instead of captured and taken deeper into the jungle. No doubt all of the kittens/ducks/chickens wandering about called loudly to his nature. It is the human nature of eradicating what we fear that is difficult to reconcile.

On the bright side, the children and I had a great talk about it all, exploring how to see the wonder and the beauty of all animals, even when they scare us. Then we got our sticks and drew a story in the sand, titled “I don’t want the snake to eat my cat but maybe I’m okay if the snake can live in the jungle”.

Step by step (slither by slither) the future is being written.