Authors: Bindi Irwin
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Bindi Wildlife Adventures 11: A Giant Rescue
ePub ISBN 9781742742984
Kindle ISBN 9781742742991
A Random House book
Published by Random House Australia Pty Ltd
Level 3, 100 Pacific Highway, North Sydney NSW 2060
First published by Random House Australia in 2011
Copyright Â© Australia Zoo 2011
The moral right of the author has been asserted.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted by any person or entity, including internet search engines or retailers, in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying (except under the statutory exceptions provisions of the Australian
Copyright Act 1968
), recording, scanning or by any information storage and retrieval system without the prior written permission of Random House Australia.
Addresses for companies within the Random House Group can be found at
National Library of Australia
Author: Irwin, Bindi, 1998â
Title: A Giant Rescue / Bindi Irwin, Jess Black
ISBN: 978 1 86471 856 0 (pbk.)
Series: Irwin, Bindi, 1998âBindi wildlife adventures; 11.
Target audience: For primary school age
Other authors/contributors: Jess Black
Dewey number: A823.4
Cover photograph Â© Australia Zoo
Cover and internal design by Christabella Designs
âAlmost there, Robert,' encouraged Bindi, from high up on the watchtower.
Her brother, Robert, climbed the last two ladder rungs and stepped up onto the top of the tower. âWow, I feel like a giant!' he cried in
delight, surveying the surrounding landscape.
Bindi laughed. âYep, it's pretty amazing, isn't it?' Whichever way they turned, the Irwins had a great view of the tropical rainforest sprinkled across the Cardamom Mountains. This part of Cambodia was lush and green â the land was very fertile. Dotted in among the forest hills were neatly planted crop farms, with local farmers working in rows as they tended to their crops.
âMaybe that's why they call it an elephant tower, because you feel like one when you're up here looking down!' suggested Bindi.
Robert shook his head in doubt,
a serious expression on his face. âNo, silly. It's called an elephant tower so we can spot the elephants coming near the farms and trying to eat the crops!'
Bindi chuckled. âThanks for the heads-up, little buddy.' She leaned over the edge to call down to her mum, Terri, who was standing at the base of the tower. âDo you think we'll see any elephants today?'
It was Kate Watson, Terri's friend and colleague, who answered. âSorry Bindi, they rarely visit this area anymore.'
Terri put an arm around Kate's shoulder. âYou've achieved amazing results here, Kate. I can hardly
recognise the place from our first trip a few years ago. Good on you!'
Kate ran a hand through her long dark hair and smiled. âWell thanks, Terri. It's been a very rewarding project to be involved in. Not only are the elephants thriving, but the crops are too. It's a winâwin situation!'
Terri felt really proud of what the Cambodian Elephant Conservation Foundation had achieved over the last few years. Elephant deaths through human conflict had all but stopped. Cambodia was home to two of the largest Asian elephant habitats left in Asia â the Cardamom Mountains in the south-west of the country and Mondulkiri Province
in the east. Here in the Cardamoms, the elephants had caused problems for farmers by raiding the banana and sugarcane crops. The farmers needed these crops to survive and attacked the elephants in order to protect their livelihood. Kate had come on board as group leader to help the local community to deter the elephants using nonviolent methods.
Terri hoped very much that they would be able to have some impact on the future of the endangered Asian elephant population in Cambodia. If this project worked, then perhaps humans and elephants would be able to live alongside each other in peace.
âAwesome, Kate!' cried Bindi. âIt must feel great to have a happy ending.'
Kate nodded. âIt definitely does, Bindi.'
Bindi stifled a yawn that then set Robert off. It had been a long journey from Australia to reach the project in the mountains, and they had only been in the area for a few hours. The kids were starting to feel the jet lag. Kate noticed Terri also looked a little tired.
âKeeping you up, are we?' Kate asked. âLet's get you guys to your accommodation so you can have a rest. Come on, kids!' Kate and Terri waited at the bottom of the
wooden ladder for Bindi and Robert to clamber down.
Just then Kate's mobile rang. She pulled it from her jeans pocket. âExcuse me a minute.'
As Kate talked into the phone, the three Irwins looked out over the fields. Cambodia was humid and tropical, and they were beginning to droop as the heat of the day intensified.
Kate finished the call. She looked worried.
âEverything okay?' enquired Terri.
Kate looked thoughtful before replying. âThat was a call from a volunteer in Mondulkiri. There have been reports of elephants
raiding crops and the locals aren't happy.'
âSounds serious, Kate. Will they need you there?' asked Terri.
She nodded. âAnd the sooner, the better. I was planning to go after your visit but â¦'
âDon't worry about us,' said Terri. âThe elephants are the number one priority. Besides, we'd love to come with you.'
Kate turned to look at Bindi and Robert, who were already giving her the thumbs up. âMondulkiri, here we come!' Bindi said.
After staying the night in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, the Irwins and Kate had risen early to begin the long and hazardous four-wheel drive trip to Mondulkiri. It had taken most of the day just to get to the base of the mountainous
region, and as they travelled north, it became humid and wet. Their guide and driver, a local man named Din, came from a hill tribe called the Bunong.
The road became especially bumpy once they started climbing up the mountain roads, and Kate reassured them after a tight corner turn. âDon't worry. Din knows these roads like the back of his hand.' Unfortunately, no sooner were the words out of her mouth than Din slammed on the brakes. The jeep skidded sideways and off the wet road before landing in a ditch.
Once they were sure that nobody was hurt, Bindi stuck her head out
of the window to see what had caused the sudden braking. âWe've got company,' she whispered. A beautiful large Asian elephant had stepped out of the jungle and onto the road.
Everyone inside sat very still, completely mesmerised. It wasn't every day you got to see an elephant wandering around in the wild! He was deeply wrinkled and underneath his long eyelashes his eyes looked wise, as if he had seen many things in his life.
âYou beauty!' declared Robert.
The elephant dismissed them with a flick of his short tail and graciously carried on across the
road, disappearing into the thick foliage. In no time at all he had moved out of sight.
âCrikey!' said Bindi.
âDouble crikey!' said Robert. âI wonder if he's the elephant that's been having late-night snacks?'
Kate raised an eyebrow. âWe'll soon find out.' She turned to Din. âThanks for being so quick-witted. I would never have seen him coming out of nowhere like that.'
âWe Bunong have been living among the elephants for many generations,' explained Din. âThey are very much a part of our community and our people.'
Din started the engine again but
the jeep wouldn't budge. Red mud slung up on either side of the jeep as the tyres skidded, sinking deeper into the mud. The jeep was soon bogged to its axles.
Kate checked her watch. âWe're running out of daylight hours. Let's leave the car here and keep going on foot. I don't want to waste any more time. I'll phone for someone from town to tow it in the morning.'
The Irwins hopped out and began unpacking their gear from the jeep. It would take a couple of hours to trek through the jungle to the little Bunong village where they would be staying. The group made their way on foot through the dense forest.
There was a track with enough room to follow, one behind the other. The air was cooler up in the mountains, Bindi noticed with relief; it would make for easier walking. She took in her surroundings as they walked. This was real jungle. Vines as thick as her body intertwined tree trunks and other vines. The colours seemed so vibrant. The forest was lush green and the soil was so red it stained the trees.
As they continued the trek, Kate explained a little about the area to them as they walked. âMondulkiri is known as a magical place full of natural beauty. The Bunong people have been living in these hills and
jungles for centuries in harmony with elephants.'
âSo why would there only be trouble now with the elephants in this area?' asked Bindi.
Kate looked to Din and invited him to answer.
âIn recent years we Bunong have found our way of life increasingly under threat.' He grew serious. âIt's not just the elephants encroaching on our crops either. Once, we were isolated, but it seems more people come here every day. We have already lost some of our land and forest to the government and big companies. They say they need the land for mining, logging, plantations
and road development. What choice do we have?'
Bindi looked around at the jungle, teeming with life. She hated to think of this unique area being destroyed and of the Bunong people losing their way of life.
Kate continued. âAs the elephant's habitat shrinks, elephants and humans come into conflict as elephants raid crop fields and destroy homes and property.'
Bindi and Robert exchanged a glance. This didn't sound good.
Din added, âBut humanâelephant conflict isn't the only cause of declining Asian elephant populations. The threat of poaching and trophy
hunting is another reason.'
Robert nodded. âI know all about trophy hunting! I don't understand why people think it's a good idea to own a stool made from an elephant's foot.'
Bindi shook her head in agreement. âIt's totally awful!'
They trekked along in thoughtful silence and eventually, just as the sun was setting, they arrived in a very pretty little village.
Din was met by an elder who spoke in rapid Bunong. Din translated. âAn elephant has again raided crops. The villagers are angry and want to hunt the creature tonight before more damage is done.'
âPlease, Din, convince them not to do anything tonight,' pleaded Kate. âTell them that I can show them how protect their crops without hurting the elephants. I understand how important your rice, coffee, rubber and fruit crops are.'
Din spoke to the villagers and after a tense few moments he nodded to Kate. âThey will wait.'
The weary travellers were shown to tents on Din's land. âGet a good night's rest,' advised Kate. âYou're going to need it. Tomorrow we have a lot of work to do!'