Participate in trekking with elephants
Let’s face it, Thailand without elephants is like peanut butter with no jelly and many visitors to the country have elephant tours and trek-kings on their mind. However it is important to not indulge in sometimes illegal trips organized by companies that are exploiting these majestic gentle giants.
It is very easy to participate in trekking with elephants, but it is not that easy to find a reputable place that protects and cares about there elephants. There are elephant parks in Chiang Mai that have a different approach, but you better inform yourself well.
Many elephants are illegally imported and taken away from their mothers before they reach the age of three years, the mothers protecting their young are in many cases killed in the process.
Being the national symbol of the country, the elephant is widely respected throughout the history of Thailand, today Thailand’s navy still has a white elephant embedded in it’s flag.
Nowadays in Thailand there are about 1500 elephants still living in the wild mostly in the region located North-West from Chiang Mai and therefore are an endangered species.
Of course we have to mention the famous white elephants which are given to the king and are not permitted to do any kind of work due to their revered status. In fact they are very rarely completely white and they have to have a percentage of white skin in certain areas on their body to qualify as a genuine white elephant.”
Providing for the needs of elephants is quite expensive
To provide for the needs of even just one elephant is quite expensive, not including medical care elephants are eating shoots, leaves, fruits and tall grasses, they consume the equivalent of about a staggering 150 kg of food a day and are drinking up to 190 liters of water, there favorite food is tamarind, but sugar cane and bananas are surely also on the top of their list.
Mistreated elephants are noticeable by the elephants pacing back and forth and swaying their heads as a sign of stress.
Some companies simply loading tourists onto the animals back in a chair which is hurting the elephant are doing this to hide the fact that the animal is not in good spirits, if you do feel the need to take an elephant ride try to look for places that teach people to ride an elephant bare-back, it is an overall better experience to feel closer to-and have a better interaction with the animal.
Following are 2 recommended places that you can visit and where you can help and volunteer as a caretaker that will give you the satisfaction to feel close to these intelligent and pleasant giants.
Elephant Nature Park
A sanctuary and rescue center for elephants, founded in 1996 by the now famous and rightfully awarded Sangduen“Lek”Chailert with the aim to provide sanctuary for distressed elephants in Thailand and to give the animals a new life in a for them peaceful and natural environment.
The park is host to disabled, blind, orphaned elephants of all ages from all over Thailand and rescued them from a life of street begging, logging or tourism.
The emphasis of the park is on rescue and conservation rather than shows and tourist attractions.
Not only elephants are rescued here, but also street dogs, cats, buffaloes and other unfortunate animals are finding there way to the park.
For more information go to:
Office: 1 Ratmakka rd. Phra Sing, Chiang Mai 50200
Office hours: 07:00 to 17:00 Sunday to Monday
Tel: +66 (0) 53 272 855 or +66 (0) 53 818 932
Thai Elephant Conservation Center
Founded in 1993 under royal patronage and active in conservation, TECC operates an on-site hospital and manages Thailand’s first mobile clinic that brings life saving medical care for elephants around the country, the hospital also includes sophisticated scientific research.
The park offers many enjoyable activities including: elephant bathing, 3 daily, 40 minute shows, the dung paper factory, a visit to the hospital and one-two-and three day programs for visitors to learn how to interact with elephants.
For more information go to:
Tel: +66 (0) 5482 9334