Name: Pang Noi
Thai Name: Miss Little
Where Now: Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary
Location: near the village of Baan Tuek in Sukhothai, North Thailand
Pang Noi : Learn more about Pang Noi at BLES: Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary
An Elephant Rescue
Pang Noi’s (Thai for Miss Little) journey to BLES (Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary) may have been fraught with complications over the ownership of said elephant but Katherine and Anon, BLES founders, could never have anticipated just how bewildering the rescue of a pregnant female elephant would get. And all of this despite the fact that it was said owners (some of them anyway) who had presented themselves to BLES proposing the sale in the first place. For what worth would a mother elephant have in the logging industry, they reasoned, if she would have to nurse and care for her newborn calf?
So on the first day out in anticipation of a brisk rescue, after an hour’s drive to secure the elephant (to Ultradtt, Thailand the promised “meeting site”) Katherine and Anon were told the elephant wasn’t there. It was then they were advised to drive another 12 hours farther from BLES. Yet again, upon arrival, the elephant wasn’t there; this after having to endure, as a courtesy, a lengthy dinner with 3 of the 5 “representative owners” of the elephant. But not without the assurance from said owners of the elephant that in the morning the elephant would appear.
But morning came (Katherine and Anon spent the night precariously in the back of their truck) and still no elephant. And it was only after the weary couple threatened to abandon the rescue and “cancel the purchase that the actual dilemma was revealed.”
It seems Pang Noi had 16 years previously, been “smuggled into Laos” from Thailand by one of her current owners who had been & was presently employed by a company in the logging industry. That logging site, five hours further away in Laos, was where the elephant would be found, they said. It was this complication, the fact that the elephant was across the border in Laos, despite having never been properly documented, that made the owners so “nervous about the sale’ of Pang Noi.
They also had no idea how they were going to bring something the size of an elephant (well, she was an elephant and expecting a baby elephant at that) back to her homeland.
After finally arriving and seeing the elephant (Pang Noi) Katherine was immediately “alarmed“ that humans would subject an “obviously pregnant elephant” to working at a logging camp. (Despite the fact that the mama elephant was not due to deliver her baby for “several months, Pang Noi was already lactating and her belly hung dangerously low,” which would denote an imminent birth.)
With no time to lose Katherine needed to “address two issues: the missing certification of ownership” and now a “lack of funds” after the unexpected travel that was required to find Pang Noi in addition the unending delays involved with their attempts to find and save this elephant.
Thankful that a charity, Elephant Family of the UK, came through with the money, there were now funds available to tackle the legal paperwork. A “new certificate of ownership” was prepared and after acquiring a signature from the 5th family owner of the elephant (who was back in Thailand in Chiang Kong) they finally had the required documents in their hands to send them on their way.
But the road back to BLES was not kind (almost treacherous) and the vehicle /truck that Katherine and Anon owned seemed less than adequate to transport such a heavily laden (pregnant) elephant. They didn’t want to take a chance on Pang Noi delivering her calf early. So Katherine made the decision, “as the least arduous option, to walk Pang Noi from Laos to BLES”.
A New Beginning
So in elephant time they made it all the way to the sanctuary, but not without the skills of two patient and kind BLES Mahouts. A total of three months (including Pang Noi’s two week elephant walk , “at her own pace, resting and grazing”) had gone by and none were more relieved than Katherine and Anon or more curious than Pang Noi’s new elephant family who were waiting to greet them.
Luckily Pang Noi suffered no “health complications” in her journey to BLES. Yet the elephant was unsettled and unable to reach out to her new human family at the sanctuary in able to feel trust. (This behavior was attributed to her “years of working under difficult conditions” which had become evident through her “more contrary behaviors”. The elephant was clearly frustrated and at mealtimes would only accept “food if it was thrown on the ground”. It could also be said that Pang Noi had difficulty eating as she had previously been maimed when “the tip of her trunk was cut off”.)
If not for “one special mahout,” by the name of Sot, Pang Noi may have taken many more months to adjust to her surroundings and to be fully able to trust the humans who were now in charge of her care. Sot worked tirelessly and never lost “faith in her ability to be rehabilitated”. Slowly the elephant and the mahout formed a bond but it would take even longer for Sot to gain Pang Noi’s trust. And yet that unfolding trust would bring such healing to the elephant.
“There is no doubt that the birth of her healthy calf is attributable to the care and kindness she was shown by her mahout.” So it was then that Pang Noi had a new joy, a new beginning; that of mama to a sweet baby elephant (delivered just “four months after Pang Noi’s journey to BLES; three months before her due date”) who would be named Star.
Star’s mama. Now what better purpose could there be in Pang Noi’s new life?
Watch YouTube video of “Pang Noi & Pang Suai Chilling in the Pond” taken by a visitor to BLES
Images: BLES; Pang Noi with curly trunk by Peter Yuen BLES
From Katherine’s Journal: Life in an Elephant Sanctuary
08/12/14 entry “Pang Suai and Pang Noi have also been vocalizing more recently. I wonder if it is the rain that makes the elephants sing?”
11/05/14 entry “The impressive Tong Jai has just come out of musth and is looking very well at the moment and has been spending time with Pang Suai and Pang Noi who seem to get quite excited by his mighty presence!”
12/16/14 entry “Pang Noi and Pang Suai have been climbing to the very tops of the hills and devouring all the fresh foliage up there. They have also been exploring on the two newest pieces of land BLES has recently been able to save, thanks to a fundraising campaign run on Facebook last month.”
02/05/15 entry “The Gossip Girls have been interacting with Naamfon some more, but Lotus still seems reluctant to allow Naamfon in to their group permanently. Pang Suai and Pang Noi have been watching the dramas from the bushes and it seems they actually feel sorry for Naamfon! They have started hanging around her a bit more during the walks and although there hasn’t been any direct interaction yet, we are hoping they will start to befriend each other and form another threesome at BLES!”
05/21/16 Facebook “Pang Suai and Pang Noi are the truest definition of what it means to be best friends. The two of them are never, ever, apart from each other. They do absolutely everything together and it has been incredible to watch their friendship intensify over the years.”
See more stories of elephant rescues at the BLES elephants facebook page