An elephant adventure one volunteer will never forget
As the former manager of the Cotswold Farm Park, Tony Fisher is more accustomed to looking after pigs than elephants.
But the 65-year-old who has returned from five weeks volunteering in Sri Lanka said looking after the gigantic animals is something he will never forget.
The dad-of-one spent time mucking out the elephants – by hand – and washing them with coconut shells during his visit to the Millennium Elephant Foundation and a village near Habarana.
He helped plant a field of onions, harvested a crop with a small sickle, spent nights in a treehouse keeping watch for wild elephants and teaching English at a school.
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He had previously visited the centre on holiday in 2005 and was keen to see the other side of it.
He said: “It is a beautiful island and when we went we stayed in nice hotels, so this was completely the other side of life there and very basic.
“The techniques they use in farming go back 200 years and is done on a very small scale with no machinery.
“Most of the other volunteers were a lot younger, and the oldest was 24, so I really bought the average age up.
“But it was something I had been thinking about doing for a while and always put on the backburner.
“There is a strange fascination with elephants and I can see why. They are so huge and intelligent and you have got to show them a lot of respect.
“My jobs included cleaning the elephant’s night bed and clearing, by hand, all the poo, which also had to be counted so as to give an idea of whether the elephant was eating enough.
“Next the elephant had to washed in the river using a coconut husk and then given a dough ball full of vitamins and minerals.”
Tony spent 26 years teaching at Alderman Knight and the Dean Hall in Coleford, schools before taking over as the farm park’s manager in 2005.
It was there he discovered the charity Kids for Kids, which helps children in hardship in the Darfur region of Sudan.
He gives talks about their work and would also like to tell youngsters about his work in Sri Lanka. For more information contact Tony on 01451 810849 or firstname.lastname@example.org.