Here is one extraordinary Christmas gift you won’t find in any store — sponsoring an orphaned baby elephant.
There are far too many of them available for sponsorship, as so many elephants are killed by poachers, leaving these gentle, smart babies alone to die.
I had one of the happiest moments of my life, in Thailand, riding on the neck of an elephant, guiding him (her?) with my knees, wondering when I’d fall off. It’s a long way down! Adult elephants, to meet their caloric needs, eat a lot, and as we wandered through the Thai forest, the elephant ate constantly which meant bending his head and trunk to the forest floor and pitching me up and down as s/he did.
If you have ever touched an elephant, their skin is covered with thick, long wiry hairs. Their trunk whiffles and snuffles as it explores you, or anything nearby. Magic.
My fantasy second career is as a mahout, an elephant guide.
It costs $50 a year to sponsor an elephant through this trust, run by Dame Daphne Sheldrick. A film about her work has been seen by 6 million Britons when it was shown on BBC.
I plan to sponsor Zurura, found in a ruby mine, whose name in Swahili, means “wanderer.” I hope to meet her someday!