Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Honoring Elephants

An inspiring documentary currently showing at the 2012 Newport Beach Film Festival focuses the lens on Soraida Salwala, a tireless Thai animal rights activist, or more specifically, an elephant rights activist, who formed, with a vet, arguably the world's first elephant hospital.

In rescuing Motala, the first of a series of elephants from the fate of being put down out of their misery, after the huge animal stepped on a land mine in neighboring Burma, Salwala found her life's mission, the care and recovery of injured elephants, including providing customized artificial limbs for the elephants.

Relying not on the government but on charitable donations, Salwala has managed to survive as this documentary well depicts. The film is directed by Windy Borman, who told us she stayed in hostels in Chiangmai and headed to Lampang - the site of the elephant hospital - three times to film the documentary.

As one who loves elephants, it was painful to see the bleeding and pain suffered by these animals. Moreover, Borman does not spare us images of humans - including the young - whose legs are blown off by hidden landmines, such as in Vietnam, which has apparently tens of thousands more land mines than Burma. Given the long border with Burma, Asian elephants from Thailand often have to cross the border to work as logging animals - and thus get injured as a consequence of the civil war that until recently wreaked havoc in Myanmar.

Those who missed the first showing can still catch The Eyes of Thailand, at Triangle Square at 6:30 pm today (Tuesday May 1). Click here for more information.

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