Northern Thailand is just incredibly beatiful and hides many sacred places, still unexplored by most of the tourists.
You can find out more about this here /* in my other post about some amazing spots we visited during our 3 days stay in Chiang Mai/.
One of the best experiences in my life was volunteering at the Elephant Nature Park of Chiang Mai. It was our second day in Northern Thailand when we headed to the South of Chiang Mai with a group of like minded people to visit an elephant sanctuary.
I always check on elephants parks to make sure they don’t abuse the animals that’s why we already had a booking which we made before leaving to Thailand. I also strongly encourage you to never ride elephants and do your own research about parks you visit. We booked from this website and the sanctuary we visited is checked and sure that they don’t abuse the animals, but take care of them and help them recover.
The place we visited is part of the Elephant Nature Park organization based in Chang Mai. This is a place where elephants can recover in peace and live happily ever after. Here you can check the the program we did.
Many people want to ride elephants in Thailand. Or at lease the people that doesn’t really know that they’re actually hurting them so much. If you haven’t spent a day at an elephant sanctuary you may not have learned the disturbing truth about this popular activity. Unfortunately riding an elephant is an experience that many dream about when planning a visit to Thailand. But, the saddest thing is that there’s a really dark
side to elephant tourism that many just don’t seem to be aware of…
Asian elephants are an endangered species. Experts believe there are now less than 2000 wild elephants living in Thailand. The population is declining at a rapid rate due to loss of habitat. Illegal capture and trade for use in the tourism industry is the main problem.
This industry thrives because so many foreign visitors want to ride elephants or watch them do tricks, paying good money for the privilege. But the fact is those wild elephants need to be tamed before they can be ridden. Did you even know that their spines are not made to support the weight of humans no matter of their size and this can actually cause serious long-term harm?
Elephant abusement is brutal and this business is ugly and shameful. You can read more here about how people treat those beautiful creatures to make money from them.
The founder of Elephant Nature Park Lek Chailert has been fighting to save the elephants and change her country’s acceptance of their treatment since she was a young girl. She created this whole project to rescue mistreated elephants from the tourist trade and give them a better life.
The park provides day trips and week-long volunteer opportunities that allow tourists to interact with and learn about elephants in a responsible way. As a registered Thai nonprofit foundation, fees collected go towards feeding and caring for the massive creatures, purchasing additional elephants from their abusive owners, and expanding the size of the sanctuary itself. At the beginning of the trip to Elephant Nature Park we watched a graphic video presentation that gave us some light on the secretive elephant tourism industry. And trust me, it wasn not easy to watch. We all cried.
Brutal elephant training has been a traditional practice in South-East Asia for hundreds of years. The problem these days is that most captive elephants in Thailand are used to entertain tourists rather than for traditional purposes like logging or military use. It’s people’s demand for elephant rides and circus acts that lead to more baby elephants getting captured from their mothers, tortured, and sold off to entertain people.
Sadly most people who participate in elephant tourism in Thailand are completely unaware of how they are treated. I hope that spreading the information about this awful business will help open the eyes of as many people as possible and that someday that abusement of those lovely creatures will finally stop!
The business of people using elephants to make money from tourists is ugly, shameful, abusive and unfortunately quite profitable.
Let’s open our eyes and stop doing this to this full of love creatures. They can also feel and suffer like us. So please be the change!
*Some of the info is adapted from here.