Pang Dow Naam Chok (Lucky Star) has endured more abuse than most twenty-something female elephants. Despite being seriously disabled, Pang Dow has been forced to live out every possible nightmare.
As a calf, she was marched up and down busy streets and made to beg from unknowing tourists. Sold on to a man who owned a trekking camp, she carried heavy tourists on her back for hours on end. Once the owner got bored of her, he sold her on to someone else who used Pang Dow to log illegally. Maneuvering huge and heavy piles of logs is tough for any elephant, but for Pang Dow it was close to impossible. Pang Dow’s disabled front leg means she has to walk on her ankle rather than her foot. Her dramatic limp is emphasized by her abnormal back shape. Years of abuse and neglect had taken its toll on Pang Dow’s failing body. A combination of internal parasites and extreme stress had caused Pang Dow’s skin to break out in strange spots and they cover her entire body.
Katherine and Anon were alerted to Pang Dow’s plight when they rescued Wassana, a land mine victim forced to give trekking rides to tourists. WasssanaThe owner of the camp told them about a disabled elephant he knew of. Katherine took the details and passed them onto a friend who went to check out the situation. The friend admits he was moved to tears when he first saw Pang Dow limping towards him, dragging logs, and being whacked on the head by her mahout.
Desperate to know more, Anon drove through the night, met the friend and went with him undercover. Anon took many pictures that day but Katherine only had to look at one to know they had to act immediately and save Pang Dow.
Katherine uploaded the horrific pictures on to Facebook and then to her complete horror, there was a power cut. The power was out for four and a half days and Katherine had to turn to her mother, Evelyn, to run the fundraising campaign for Pang Dow. The clock was ticking and another party who wanted to use Pang Dow for forced breeding (akin to rape) had made a lucrative offer for Pang Dow. Evelyn was online until daybreak most nights and refused to rest until she knew the funds had been raised. Kind-hearted BLES supporters from around the world were moved by Pang Dow’s plight and worked together to raise awareness and the funds to save her. In just one week BLES had raised the funds needed.
Transporting Pang Dow to BLES was traumatic and Katherine had moments when she thought they might not make it. Pang Dow was so distressed that she attacked the mahouts, including Anon who dislocated his shoulder. Pang Dow pushed against the sides of the truck and started to ram into the cab. Katherine had no other choice than to pull over and call for assistance from an elephant veterinarian. It was dark and they were in the middle of nowhere. The vet was at first reluctant to come out so late on a Friday night, but eventually agreed to help. Katherine and her team (including her mum and two children) sat on the side of the road for five long hours. The vet sedated Pang Dow and the BLES team drove back to BLESfor a further 10 hours.
Upon arrival at BLES, Pang Dow was naturally confused. The only one she found comfort in was Katherine and stuck close to her side. Pang Dow’s chain was removed and her wounds were treated. Katherine introduced Pang Dow to the rest of the elephants but it was Pang Suai who took pity on the new rescue and befriended her. The two of them have not been apart from each other since and are now the best of friends.