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Elephant trekking in Thailand has gained an enormous amount of popularity in the past decade. Offering tourists the chance to see the gorgeous Thai jungle and scenery on the back of an authentic Asian elephant, these programs appear to be the perfect destination for anyone who’s up for an adventure. On the surface, these attractions seem like endless fun for all parties involved, well that is all parties, except for the elephants.
Many people forget that elephants are in fact wild animals who do not “just naturally” carry humans on their backs. In order to get these wild animals to submit to being sat on and directed throughout the forest, they have to be “broken.” This is a cruel process that involves taking elephants away from their mothers at a young age and subjecting them to six months of endless beatings, starvation, and other abuse. When these six months are over, the elephant has all but given up on the will to disobey their human captors and can being the training process.
Sadly, life after this breaking period is no better for elephants in trekking camps as they are expected to work non-stop in the hot Thai sun. Thankfully, more people are starting to learn about the cruelty involved in these camps and demand that the elephants be retired to sanctuaries – and it looks like thing are starting to change!
After nearly three years of negotiations, one such camp, Karnchanaburi in the Saiyok district, has decided to retire their 60 elephants and turn their trekking camp into a sanctuary!
With the help of Elephant Nature Park, a well-known elephant refuge in Thailand, Karnchanaburi plans to transition their cruel operation into a peaceful forever home for the elephants in their care.
“We applaud their soulful decision,” said Lek Chailert, founder of Elephant Nature Park, “I hope that more elephant camps in Thailand will do the same in the near future.”
Instead of being forced to work non-stop and perform unnatural behaviors and feats, the elephants will be free to enjoy their natural surroundings and the company of others. The ultimate goal is to turn Karnachanaburi into a thriving sanctuary, like Elephant Nature Park. In this manner, guests can still come to the facility to view the elephants, but they will not be able to ride or interact with the animals in an abusive manner.
This is a wonderful step for these 60 elephants and we wish them the very best in their new home! We certainly hope that others will follow suit soon!
All image source: Elephant Nature Park