Elephant's rescue pulls in jumbo donations

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 June, 2012, 12:00am


A Hong Kong charity that rescued a badly injured, three-tonne elephant from a life of misery on the streets of Cambodia had a rush of donations after its work was highlighted by the Sunday Morning Post.

Now the Elephant Animal Rescue and Survival Foundation (EARS) run by expatriate Louise Rogerson is preparing to rescue more animals with the support of well-wishers who have donated tens of thousands of dollars.

Rogerson made headlines when she saved a famous female elephant called Sombo, who for 20 years gave rides to tourists around the Wat Phnom temple in Phnom Penh, leaving her feet horribly deformed.

After months of negotiation with government officials and the animal's owners and with the help of Ocean Park's chief veterinarian Paolo Martelli, Rogerson arranged for the 52-year-old elephant to have a dignified retirement in a new home near the Cambodian capital.

Following the Post's report in March, donations poured in and the Clearwater Bay Equestrian and Education Centre said it would sponsor Sombo's upkeep for a year, at a cost of about US$7,200.

'The response has been overwhelming both in Hong Kong and internationally,' Rogerson said. 'The money raised allowed EARS to fund a purpose-built medical centre, pay for all Sombo's veterinary care and build her a pool.

'When it is built, the pool will not only allow her to bathe in water for the first time in many weeks, but will also take the weight off her painfully abscessed feet and help her recovery.

'We have a daily medical programme in place and Sombo's feet are showing improvement.'

She said the Post's coverage not only promoted support for Sombo, but also educated the public about conditions endured by elephants used in tourism throughout Asia.

Now, aided by an anonymous HK$20,000 donation from Hong Kong, Rogerson plans to rescue two elephants being kept in appalling conditions in a Cambodian zoo.

EARS has arranged with the zoo to care for the elephants and the HK$20,000 will fund the building of a bigger, new enclosure for them.

'These elephants have lived a life of near starvation at this horrendous zoo for more than a decade,' Rogerson said.

As well providing better housing and food for the elephants, EARS is teaming up with a local charity to convert the zoo into a wildlife conservation and education centre.

Visit www.earsasia.org for updates on Sombo's progress.