The Elephant Sanctuary in Hartbeespoort

Saturday we woke up very early to go to the Elephant Sanctuary in Hartbeespoort, which is around one hour and a quarter away from Johannesburg. Tatiana was really excited about going there, and while I thought it interesting, there’s something about it all that made me feel sad.  The landscape around the dam was more my cup of tea and didn’t make me feel guilty.

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Sábado nós acordamos bem cedo para ir ao Santuário dos Elefantes em Hartbeesport, que fica a cerca de uma hora e quinze minutos de Johanesburgo. Tatiana estava bem animada para ir lá, e muito embora eu tenha achado interessante, tinha algo que me fazia ficar triste. A paisagem da represa me teria servido melhor e não teria me feito sentir culpada. 

At the entrance of the Sanctuary, there’s a sign saying that they “are not responsible for injuries or death caused by whatever reasons”. So charming… maybe that set the mood for Tatiana’s veery *cautious* behavior towards the elephants.

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Na entrada do santuário, havia uma placa dizendo que eles “não eram responsáveis por qualquer dano ou morte causado por qualquer motivo”. Que charmoso… talvez isso tenha colaborado para o comportamento super *cauteloso* da Tatiana para com os elefantes. 

Our guide at the sanctuary kept going on about how the sanctuary is not a circus, blablabla, I’m pretty sure many people might have suggested so or even flat out said it. Truth is, it did give me a “circus feeling” about it all. The trainers command the elephants to “say” thank you by shaking their heads, to thunder with their trunks, to sit, to walk around with people, to lift their legs, etc… they can get mad all they want, but it does look like some circus tricks, even if they are “providing a safe haven” for the elephants. We were told that their elephants are rescued from situations that could lead to their deaths, but I can’t imagine the elephants being happy with their new home. They charge 400 rands (around 60 us dollars) for the “experience”, it’s another 400 rands if you want to go on a ride on the elephants’ back.

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Nosso guia no santuário ficou falando várias vezes que o santuário não é circo, blablabla, tenho certeza que muita gente deve ter sugerido isso ou jogado na cara. A verdade é que para mim tinha uma carinha de circo sim. Os treinadores mandam os elefantes “dizer” obrigado através de um balanço da cabeça, bramir com a tromba, sentar, andar com pessoas, erguer as penas… eles podem ficar bravos o quanto quiserem, mas parece sim truque de circo, mesmo que eles estejam providenciando um porto seguro para os elefantes. Nos disseram que os elefantes que eles têm lá foram todos resgatados de situações que poderiam resultar na morte deles, mas não consigo imaginar que os elefantes estejam felizes com o novo lar. Eles cobram 400 rands (em torno de 100 reais) pela “experiência”, é mais 400 rands se quiserem andar nas costas dos elefantes.

 After walking around holding the elephant’s snot factory, I ran to the toilet to wash my hands to go back in time to take Tatiana’s photos. First for obvious hygiene reasons. Second, I wouldn’t touch my camera with dirty hands. After Tatiana had her walk, she ran to the toilet as well, to wash her hands, for the next round of elephant touchy touchy. There were about 12 tourists there and NO ONE ELSE washed their hands after their walk. Not one. I looked around and saw that some of them had “cleaned” their hands by rubbing them against their pants…    …     …. people… seriously? Do I even need to say anything about how unhygienic, unhealthy and dumb that is? Then when a new nasty flu comes around, everyone goes over the board with “hygienic” measures…

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Depois de andar segurando o elefante pela fábrica de catota, eu corri para o toalete para lavar as mãos para voltar a tempo de fazer as fotos da Tatiana. Primeiro por razões óbvias de higiene, segundo porque eu não ia pegar na minha câmera com as mãos sujas. Depois que a Tatiana andou com o elefante, ela também correu para o toalete para lavar as mãos para a próxima rodada da experiência com os elefantes. Haviam uns 12 turistas lá e NINGUÉM MAIS lavou as mãos! Eu dei uma olhada em volta e vi que alguns tinham “limpado” as mãos esfregando nas calças… …     …. gente, sério mesmo? Que porquice, sério! Que falta de noção e higiene. Daí surge uma gripe aviária, gripe suína e os escambal e o povo exagera nas medidas que eles consideram sanitárias. 

These photos of Tatiana and I together were taken by our guide. He did pretty well with the shots (I set the exposure though, heh).

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Essas fotos minhas com a Tatiana foram tiradas pelo nosso guia. Ele mandou bem nas fotos (eu que ajeitei a exposição though, hehe)

The elephants are so cute and lovely, but they also look so sad…

After the touchy touchy all over the elephant, one of the trainers said it was time for the “beso”. I said: “What beso? I don’t want any beso!” Too late…

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Depois de passar a mão pelo elefante todo, um dos guias disse que era hora do “beso”. Eu disse: “Que beso? Eu não quero beso nenhum!” Tarde demais… 

I didn’t want any smoochies, and Tatiana dodged off of her turn, but I gave her some food to show I had no hard feelings ;P Another run to the toilette and I’d be all so fresh and so clean.

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Eu não queria beijinho nenhum, e a Tatiana espanou e fugiu da vez dela, mas eu dei uma comidinha para ela para mostrar que não guardei rancor😛 Outra corrida ao toalete e eu estaria toda fresca e limpa novamente.

After the touching and smooching, we had a little anatomy class, a little feeding of the elephants, and then we were invited for a little breakfast… and guess what? No one else had washed their hands to eat the cakes… way to go…

Tatiana and I left the place, we still had lots to do that day.

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Depois da pegação e beijinhos, nós tivemos uma pequena aula de anatomia dos elefantes, demos comida aos elefantes e fomos convidados a partilhar de um pequeno café da manhã… e adivinha? Ninguém lavou as mãos para comer os bolos… maravilha… 

Tatiana e eu não comemos e fomos embora, ainda tinhamos muito para fazer nesse dia. 

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17 Responses to The Elephant Sanctuary in Hartbeespoort

  1. Maurício says:

    Gee! Apparently no one likes to wash your hands there! haushuashaushaushua

  2. Douglas Bauman says:

    I love all these photos of you and your friend with the elephant – especially leading the elephant and smiling. The kiss at the end is an added bonus!

  3. Guilherme says:

    Gostei muito das Fotos Babs!! Parabéns como sempre! Ficaram bem divertidas…

    E o beijo do elefante…wellll.. not kissing that cheek again…rsrs i kidd..rsrs… but seriously.

    E você tinha que fala do povo não lavando a mão..:P

    Bjo!

  4. Tati Barro says:

    I was really exited?! hahaha
    Moro aqui a 9 meses e nunca tinha me dado o trabalho de ir… hehe. But okay, eu deixo vc dar mais cor pra sua história. rs
    As fotos ficaram bem bacanas, parabens!
    Bjos

  5. David Schook says:

    Great captures and an elephant smooch. Waht a great day. I’m glad you kept up on the hygiene, but I couldn’t find any zoonotic diseases between elephants and man, but the mucus could hold virus and bacteria from other folks ahead of you. I am truly enjoying your blog, dear AnnA.

  6. Sam says:

    Lovely series of shots, Anna. Absolutely beautiful. But I think your friend pipped you this time with that pic of the mud on your face. An instant classic. There does seem to be something of the circus to it, but sometimes it’s hard for a sanctuary to find money to sustain itself. But I would think there is maybe a little too much interraction between humans and the elephants, and too much money required per visit, for it to be quite as noble as it was made out to be. It’s a fanastic article though. Speaking as someone who often has to wash his hands after encounters with wildlife, it’s best to wait until you’re leaving otherwise you find yourself running to the loo nonstop and getting pretty tired of it. but as for hygiene, normal conservation practice would be to keep the animals away from people who could carry infections to them.

  7. Phil Lanoue says:

    Wonderful series! What a magnificent animal!

  8. Teju says:

    just can’t get enough of your amazing pictures!🙂 they’re breath taking!

  9. Hey my name is Sally and I’m a blogger and this blog really helped me. I’m refocused! Thank you!

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