Let’s hope this post is not going to make you cry like a banshee like it did me before I even started typing away. Getting you blubbering is certainly not my intention, it’s just that I reckon things like this is something we all need to know. So here we go.
Not sure if you’ve ever ridden on elephants while travelling in Thailand, yours truly didn’t, for she didn’t know if the elephants were duly rewarded for the hard work they did, day in, day out. And most of the time, they aren’t, not to mention the sheer level of abuse they’re put through at various kinds of businesses in Thailand (and the world over). In Thailand, specifically, approximately 100,000 elephants roamed in the country in 1900; today there are around 3,000 domestic and 2,000 in the wild. Whilst the elephants used to work closely with humans in the logging industry, the government’s ban on all logging activity in 1989, due to deforestation, has rendered many elephants ‘jobless’, and they were used to work in the tourism industry, such as trekking camps, circuses, and wandering the streets begging. Trekking camps pose great danger to the elephant’s health as, despite its size, the elephant’s back can hold up to just 100kg of load – imagine the load the elephants have to suffer when they carry the seat and passengers for 10 hours a day.
Fortunately – and this is where your faith in humanity is restored – some kind souls have founded the ElephantsWorld in 2008 as a retirement home for elephants that have been injured during their work, or are too old to continue with this type of work. Located 32km from the city of Kanchanaburi or 180km from Bangkok, the non-profit ElephantsWorld sees each of its 21 elephants assisted and cared for by volunteers, and houses are built for elephants that can’t bent their knees so that they can have a wall or pole to lean on to sleep.
Do consider a stay at ElephantsWorld and volunteer your help, such as walking the elephants in the forest (elephants sleep and eat in the forest in wet season) and bringing them back in the next day,cooking corn porridge for them, feeding them sticky rice balls and fruits and vegetables, as well as washing them in the river while giving them a good clean scrub. ElephantsWorld depends almost entirely on charity funding and visitors for revenue, so your visit matters more than you can imagine. Check out there different visit programmes, there’s bound to be one that suits your itinerary. And the best thing of all? You know you’ve helped instead of harmed these intelligent creatures by visiting ElephantsWorld!