Elephant Washing, Tangkahan
Every morning the elephants of Tangkahan are taken down to the Batang Serangan River to bathe. Theo, Augustine, Olive, Eva, Ardana, Sari, and Yuni move in an orderly fashion whilst baby Amelia runs excitedly between the adult elephants, the mahouts and the tourists. Trunk out, searching for bananas or anything interesting, she creates a sense of chaos, as tourists squeal with delight and mahouts dart around attempting to convince her to keep out of trouble. The elephants are given some time to socialise in the cool river before moving towards the shore to allow tourists to scrub them down.
It is amazing to get amoungst these magnificent beasts, but what makes this experience even more special is that the price goes directly to fund conservation. The elephants are part of a Conservation Response Unit, or CRU. The role of the CRU is forest protection, and the elephants embark on regular patrols of the Gunung Leuser National Park searching for illegal loggers and deterring would be poachers. The patrols also allow the elephants the opportunity to roam the forest as they might in the wild.
An absolute highlight to any trip to North Sumatra.