Most of the elephants in Thailand are living in terrible circumstances, however a UK a charitable foundation has rescued some and returned then to their forest homes, and tourist continues are assisting the project to grow.
The a charitable foundation was launched a decade back when, on a family vacation to Thailand, Brit Sarah Blaine saw elephants being made to dance, kick footballs, even paint pictures to entertain tourists. There was clearly human being distress, too : the animals’ mahouts, doing this for not enough alternative employment, were– and generally still are– execrably paid and housed by the attraction owners.
Decided to do something– and wise enough to see that a GP’s wife from Worcestershire couldn’t just wade in and tell people what to do– she started working together with a hill tribe well known for its love for elephants, the Karen. Young men from this cultural minority group considered work in the tourist industry after a ban on commercial logging in 1989 put many mahouts unemployed– and the Thai government was joyful for tourism to start the slack.
The foundation increased funds to allow Karen tribesmen to leave their tourist jobs and come home with their elephants. And now its ‘Walking with Elephants’ project delivers them extra income from visitors who come to spend a few days at a homestay and trek into the forest to keep an eye on the elephants in their natural ecosystem.
The elephants now spend 18 hours a day eating, using their large brains to select an extensive diet of forest plants and even mineral health supplements. They wander for miles, soak in the water pool– and go a bit furious in the raining season, when Mario especially likes to slide backward down muddy slopes on his bottom. It’s a far cry from existence before.
3 years ago, Thong Kam gave birth to mischievous “toddler” Sunti, who happens to be attaining adulthood here in almost complete independence. Almost, because these are not wild elephants– right now there isn’t enough wilderness left in Thailand for that; but life in this forest, with mahouts to watch them and provide additional grass in the dried up season, is the next most important thing.