Thailand - Elephant Nature Park (Part 1)

If you love elephants and really want to see some whilst you're travelling, then the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand is totally the place to go! I don't think I've ever been somewhere that has bought up so many emotions in one day. It's inspirational in ever way possible and the world needs to see this place. 

Unfortunately for elephants, throughout the world they are CONSTANTLY being used as items in tourist activities. When I grew up I always always always wanted to ride on an elephant, see it do the tricks you hear about at the circus and get up close to one. I mean, who doesn't want to see a real elephant and be able to go on a ride?! Amazing right?! Well this is where you're very very wrong (and so was 5 year old me), and where we need to spread the truth and start educating tourists on what is happening to these beautiful creatures. Far too many people are unaware that anything is actually wrong. 

When a baby elephant is around the age of 3-4 (still very dependent on their mothers), they are taken by force and placed into a small box and tied down. They are beaten with poles that have nails on the end, they are burnt, they are deprived of sleep, food, water for days and days. This is known as 'crushing', the method used to break an elephants spirit and soul so that they no longer want to live, therefore will be submissive to a humans command. They have no more hope or belief that life is good, not to mention the fear they now possess for humans. Their trunks have to be tied up during this time as it has been known that many elephants will try to deliberately step onto their trunk and suffocate themselves. We were showed a video about this on arrival, and I was completely in tears. It was shocking and so hard to watch. 

Once this process has been completed, the elephant is now ready to give rides to tourists, beg on the street, pull heavy objects to help in the building trade, perform in circus acts, anything the owner wants them to do. They do exactly what they're told, and if they don't, they will get beaten once again. Isn't this absolutely disgusting? When you see a tourist on the back of an elephant looking happy, you just think that this elephant is safe to be around because they're known for being gentle and is happy to do this. WRONG. They are doing this because they are terrified of humans. They have to work for hours on end (as long as the money is coming in they will continue to work without rest), receive little food, and at the end, they are tied up before work begins the next day. If an elephant is letting you close to it in a tourist activity, then it has been through this process and in the background, suffers torture day in day out. Thousands and thousands of elephants have been through this. And it needs to stop. 

This is where Elephant Nature Park (ENP) helps. I have yet to see a company like this. Their aim is to stop this exploitation of these animals and to let them live a normal and as natural life as best they can after their pasts. Some are very mentally scarred. Every elephant (bar 5 babies who have been born here) at this park has been rescued from some tourist attraction, so has its own unbelievably sad story to tell. ENP offers a sanctuary of over 250 acres of land for them to roam in freely, a long river for them to do whatever the hell they want in, and lots and lots of mud to play in! Not to mention constant food being provided and love being shown. You are not allowed to ride an elephant here, only love and respect them the way that they deserve. If you do that, they very often will come over to you and let you touch them and feed them. I think that's pretty amazing that they do that, considering what they've been through. They still can love humans and will let you near them! I know I sure as hell wouldn't.

There is one elephant here and her story just brings me to tears. She was blinded in both eyes from her previous owner before she was rescued. She didn't want to perform in these tourist acts anymore so she refused. Her owner stuck nails on her eyes. The other one she retaliated and hurt her owner, causing him to jab the other. Making her completely blind. Not only this, she was forced to work so hard, was so malnourished and abused that she lost her baby. Elephants feel exactly the same as humans, so imagine how she must have felt. ENP stepped in and managed to rescue her from this abuse. When she came here, they let her choose who she wanted to be friends with as they have a few different herds in the park. Quickly an older elephant befriended her and showed her the way. She would guide her down to the river as she couldn't see. They would eat together and spend every day together. She gave her part of her happiness that she'd lost back. Unfortunately just two weeks ago her best friend died, leaving her alone once again. It's so so sad! She is mourning for her. The park is doing their best to try and get her to make some new friends here. I met her today. She's beautiful. Very weary of humans and it's so sad seeing her alone. I watched as she approached a herd and tried to make friends. It was quite sweet really, but then one elephant turned around and completely bashed her out of the way and she fell over and made such a noise. She was terrified. She ran off and went behind a tree whilst her mahout comforted her. So sad to witness. I just hope she makes some friends again here soon.

They also have over 400 dogs here, cats, buffalo, pigs and cows that have all be saved from the slaughterhouse. 

I'm currently volunteering for a week so I will do another blog in a few days about what I get up to here and more about the fantastic things that ENP do here. 

If you're interested and want to know more about this place you can visit www.saveelephants.org and also go on the main ENP website. We need to clamp down on what is happening here, and this can only be achieved by spreading the world. So please please help, even if you can't come here and help, just spread the word. The more the money stops coming in from tourism, the more this will end. 

This elephant here has a flower through her ear because her old owner used to torture her by putting nails and other sharp objects though her ear, causing a huge hole. The ear is the most sensitive point on an elephant so you can't even begin to imagine her pain. Her mahout here at ENP put this flower here to show her beauty and not her past. She is 78 and absolutely beautiful.

This elephant was forced to work so hard that she fell over and broke her leg. Her owner did not care one bit about this and carried on forcing her to work on her broken leg. Unfortunately so much time has passed that it can't be fixed anymore, so she is in a lot of pain with it and can't walk very far. She is in the safest place here though and incredibly loved by all of her helpers.

This here is a picture of a poor elephants feet after she stepped on a landmine whilst being forced to work on the boarder of Thailand/Burma. So very sad.

Sasha x

P.S I know a lot of people don't want to see it, but sometimes being shown the truth can really help you understand and believe it. I have attached a picture of an elephant going through the 'crushing' process underneath. Its awful. Please spread the word so that we can put a stop to this awful torture.



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