Ramu is a 25 year old bull Asian Elephant in Nepal.
He has been living in a limbo state, his future uncertain, chained to one spot for almost a year.
We have a plan to create a more permanent home for Ramu. A strategy where he can live a comfortable life, yet also participate eco-friendly activities.
Project Ramu seems to have brought an infusion of contagious hope. January 2018, we entered into an official agreement with Ramu’s owner to share the financial cost of his maintenance and take an active part in his care.
Aside from the obvious changes like the new shelter, the entire stable has undergone a transformation. On every level, the change is noticeable. The small additions and improvements we’ve already made to the lives of the mahouts are adding up.
The success and proceeds from the ELEPHANT HAPPY HOUR program is starting to show results.
Surprisingly, the owner himself seems to be the most affected in ways that we could never have anticipated. Since finally agreeing to the terms of the Ramu agreement, he has taken on the role of active partner. He has been working alone for many years and the addition of compatible partners seems to be exactly what was needed.
The owner has been making improvements to every corner of the stable. This particular owner has always been willing to try new things, regardless of popular opinion and we are grateful for his fresh attitude.
The mahouts’ living quarters have been renovated, and they take pride in it, keeping it clean. It’s a stark contrast to the place they lived in before. New shoes, backpacks, lanterns, blankets and other things have contributed to the improvement.
The elephants are doing better as well. Both physically and emotionally, it’s evident.
As for Ramu, we have completed construction of a large shelter, adequate to contain him during his musth, which has already begun. A second mahout has been hired and Ramu is out of immediate danger.
We are still looking for a permanent location for Ramu and are currently negotiating for a large piece of land in Kumroj. The plan is to build a permanent enclosure for Ramu while also allowing him the freedom to explore the jungle with his mahout during the day.
The new Kumroj stable will have a chain free ‘night’ enclosure (which the elephants will use on a rotation basis), housing for ten mahouts, SU4E quarters, volunteers’ quarters and full access to the jungle.
ramu in musth
Ramu was in full musth at the end of February (during 41 days) and will be in a musth state every year foraround 3 months a year. We were able to finish the construction of his shelter, which ensures him shade, adequate room to sleep and access to unlimited water. In comparison to previous years, where he was chained to a stump in full sun without access to water, there is a lot of progress.
However, an elephant in musth needs a calm environment, the condition makes them extremely sensitive to any noise or disturbances. Outside, in the middle of the village does not suit Ramu.
It is urgent to move Ramu (and the four other Elephant females (including baby Sita)) out of his present location, which is in no way a healthy environment for an elephant. He is situated in the centre of town surrounded by the hotels, traffic noise and constant visits from curious tourists. This complete lack of privacy extends to the mahouts as well, who live full time at the stable.
While improvements have been made and it is important to focus on the fact that change is possible, we are still a long way from acceptable. Their current detention is an unnecessary tragedy!
Ramu (and the other Elephants) need to rediscover their original jungle. Our main priority and dearest wish is to make this happen. They deserve it. Therefore our first task is moving location, the jungle where they work giving rides is too far from the town where they sleep and it isn’t possible for them to carry enough natural food like branches, foliage or fruits, so we must bring them to the jungle.
Change is possible, it will take time, old habits are difficult to change but there is hope! The will is there and we are on the ground in position. It is possible to help them quickly but not without your help.
We also want to highlight the importance of the mahouts, who are one of the keys to the success of this project. We are fortunate to have a group of very good mahouts to work with. Without Sujan and Ramesh, Ramu’s mahouts, Ramu would be almost uncontrollable.
We have been working closely with Sujan and we are happy to see positive changes in his behaviour. He is filled with new energy, and has regained his vigor to become the very good mahout he was. Like the rest of the mahouts at the stable, he has been infected with a sense of hope!
Your donations go a long way
Caring for an elephant is not cheap, even in Nepal, so we plan to establish a volunteer program to generate additional income. As well as volunteers, activities like The «Elephant Happy Hour», which has so far shown to be a success by every measure, can be a good source of cash flow and lead us to sustainability.
We are here on the ground in Nepal and are hard at work establishing ourselves as permanent residents. There are also many people and organizations behind us helping to make this possible.