Rescued Elephants - Chiang Mai, Thailand

worldcapture
worldcapture @worldcaptureAugust 2019 · 5 min read

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It was always my dream to see elephants living in an natural and wild environment. Since I live in Thailand now for over 2 years I finally made this dream come true last weekend in August 2019.

My main demand was to find a camp with "wild" elephants and not just a typical tourism camp which treat the animals in a not good way.

The camp I found was an organization for elephants which have been abused from the tourism industry. The trainers at the camp bought 5 elephants so far and they are planning in extending it to a few more. The area was really huge and they would definitely fit very well in this place.


Location


With a bit of research I was able to find a camp in the south of Chiang Mai located in an jungle mountain area. The area itself includes 3 mountains and a big river for currently 5 elephants living there.

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After messaging the organization Into the wild via google I arranged a pick up from my Hostel at 06:30 AM for a half day tour. The cost was 1600 TBH (50 USD) including transportation, tour and some traditional lunch at the camp. Pretty fair price in my eyes.

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The drive itself took about 2 hours with a short stop at a market between. One thing I would recommend you is - Better have a strong stomach for the drive :D - It gets quite rough when the roads change to muddy/slippery stoned jungle roads.


Into the wild camp


When we arrived at the camp "Sam" introduced herself as a voluntary worker from the US who works at the camp since a couple of month. Her knowledge about the elephants was quite impressive.

She asked everyone who was joining this tour to sit down first and listen to her stories about the elephants and the camp itself. She told a lot of things about how they treat the elephants and where they used to live before in a much worse place with no freedom at all.

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After Sam was done sharing all the information's about the camp it was time to say hello to the elephants.

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The people on the pictures you see above are the trainers of the elephants. From what I saw - there was a very big connection between the animals and the guys. The way they talked to them and treated them were really fascinating. Just in a very calm and peaceful way.

After the little meet and great it was time to walk into the jungle with the elephants.

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As you can see - I was walking right in the middle between the elephants and I would lie if I'd say I was never worried about it :D It was just super impressive seeing these tall and massive animals walking around. The biggest one, which is now 55 years old was walking right behind me and always I turned around I was quite "shocked" but still loving the moment ;)

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Inside the jungle the elephants were just walking around and eating. That's something they do 20 hours per day. Yap, you heard it right - 20 hours of eating / 4 hours of sleeping - Just like Koalas if I remember right :D

Also impressive is the amount of food elephants eat - About 1/3 of their body weight. This fact tells you also how expensive it is to hold those animals in this area. They can find some of the food in the jungle but also need to be supported by foods which the trainers have to purchase by sugarcane farmers around this area.

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After eating around the jungle it was time to hydrate with some water from the fresh river for the elephants. It was really nice just watching the animals doing what they are doing. I could have easily watched them for a few more days. Just fascinating and so interesting to watch these big animals.

Back to the camp along the riverside


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We walked around the jungle for about 2 hours and went back to the camp. As the morning was hot and the elephants full of mud it was time to take a fresh bath for them.

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As you can see - The trainers had a lot of fun playing around with the elephants in the water.

I think on the end of this report there will come one question up to your mind which we should talk about "Are this elephants really free?? - Why groups are going there??"

Well - I would say that the elephants are as free as they can be. You need to realize that the elephants never learned to live 100% free as they were used in the tourism industry. They need people around them who take care them.

And why the groups? The money from the tickets goes to 100% to the trainers and elephants. As I mentioned earlier in the report, Elephants cost a lot of money!

If some of you still think - "Well, they should just be 100% free in the wild without any humans taking care of them" ,- Ask yourself , "what would happen if they are free in the wild?" Yes, someone would catch them again and use them for the tourism industry again.

So in my eyes it is a good thing to support those small organizations which provide space and freedom for the elephants :)

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I hope you enjoyed this little virtual tour with me through the elephant camp of south Chiang Mai in Thailand :)

Thanks for reading!

Best,
Chris



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what a very much amazing tour with only 50 USD. I saw elephant in real at Manila Zoo and also here in Saudi Arabia Jeddah Zoo. I love the well detailed blog of yours. It is really your profession and I hope you will be a famous one!


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Thank you very much dear @olivia08 - I'm really glad you liked it .))


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Yes I accidentally saw your post jejejeje


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Thank you so much. I was writing there yesterday. My pleasure.


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phortun
phortun @phortunAugust 2019

Absolutely fantastic post Chris. Thank you so much for creating this masterpiece. What a life changing experience it must have been. The photos are awesome and the write up too. I really appreciate you answered those questions at the end that many nature lovers and animal rights advocates, including me, might ask. What you said makes perfect sense. I think sanctuaries like these are the best choice for elephants who were already abused in the tourism industry. May they live in peace and loved for the rest of their lives.


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Thanks a lot for reading it buddy! Really appreciate if someone takes the time to go through it :))

Yeah I think that's definitely some important questions to answer - As also my main priority was to see "wild" elephants who have as much space as they need and who are free to do what ever they want. I'm really sure that they have a good life now - I think that's something you can feel if you are around them. They seemed happy and full of peace :))

Thanks Peter!


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phortun
phortun @phortunAugust 2019

Yeah, I also think you can actually feel if some animal is happy or not and I believe these guys, after all the hardship and abuse of their previous jobs, are now finally feeling what it is like to be happy and to enjoy their natural environment ;)


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What a fulfilling experience! These photos are amazing, and I agree with you that these sanctuaries can absolutely be a good thing when eco-tourism is handled well and these rescued animals benefit.


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Thank you for going through this post @oheyo :)) I agree, It's great to see that some people actually care about these beautiful animals. Thanks :))


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That was an absoltely fabulous read, with awesome pictures to go along with it. You managed so well to capture the connection between the gtrainers and the animals. I am sure they are living a wonderful life now in their "retirenment" years! Again, Great post! My favorite photo is the one of the trainer in the red hat with the elephant. I couldn't stop looking at it!


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Thank you so much for stopping by @dmcamera ! I really appreciate your comment :)) - And I agree, they have everything they deserve now - From enough food to enough space :)) Thank you! :))


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The pleasure was mine! I so enjoyed reading about those gentle giants!


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mers
mers @mersAugust 2019

You are absolutely lucky to be with them.. I love animals, elephants have the nicest face next to the giraffe. I pity the circus elephants, I can see sadness in their eyes. The circus here in Europe forbids the elephants to be shown to public...and I am glad that would be the case.


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Thanks for stopping by! I also do love giraffe's a lot! Really cute looking animal :)) It's sad seeing animals locked up.. Especially animals which need a lot of space. Thanks :))


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Cool ;) Thank you! :))


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I enjoyed this and it is well done. You are blessed to have such an experience.


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Thank you @willowwisp :)) Indeed, I'm very grateful that I had the chance for such an amazing experience :)) Thanks :))


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Thanks!!! :))


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Yeahhhh!!!!


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I remember coming into Bangkok 20 years ago and i use to see these beautiful massive Elephants been dragged down the main tourist areas i felt so sorry for them been treated that way i am so happy that this was finally stopped and were return to there natural habitation were they belong and it's great that Sam is doing a great job over there in Chang Mai a great detailed story and great photos and you got your dream i enjoyed the read. Thanks for sharing :)


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Thank for the comment bud! Yeah it's horrible how some of the animals are treated. I hope that's something which will change in the future. Cheers! :))


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Most welcome and it was good that they cracked down on them bring the Elephants into the city it's not seen anymore now :)


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Thanks for share your memories


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My pleasure :) Thanks for reading! :))


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