COVID-19 came as a huge blow not only to human beings, the ripple effect it caused cannot and should not be ignored.
In Northern Thailand, a few hundred of elephants have been left helpless since the drop of tourism in the country. Here’s what we know so far about the current state of these beautiful yet vulnerable creatures.
These elephants were being used for trekking and other tourist activities, however, their current condition needs immediate action and attention!
Saengduean Lek Chailert, the founder of Elephant Nature Park and Save Elephant Foundation, is working on finding a sustainable solution by bringing in farming and similar programs to aid the numerous elephants and their helpless owners who have no other option but to return to their respective villages.
Some heart-melting images of Elephant Foundation helping elephants return to their home-
“They literally have nowhere else to go. And so they have gone home,” Lek further added: “The situation is very, very serious. There are hundreds of elephants trekking many miles with their mahouts (elephant carers), who have little or no food to sustain them on their journey. Once they arrive back in their native village, there is little or no money to feed them—certainly not on an ongoing basis.”
“That is why planning now for a sustainable future is the only way forward,” Lek said.
“We are asking the government to release some land so the indigenous tribes and villagers can grow their own crops, feed themselves and their elephants, and make some revenue from selling their produce,” the founder commented.
She also found the need to clear a few misconceptions that have been doing the rounds in the media recently:
“Whilst we welcome media to convey our message through their various channels, we wish to clarify certain facts. Some articles lead the public to believe that these displaced elephants are being released back into the wild where they will forage and live peacefully, having ‘escaped’ from trekking. This, sadly, is not true. The elephants have been in captivity, some of them for many years, and living in the wild to fend for themselves is not possible. Added to which, the farmers are now burning their land to make way for new crop growth, so their natural habitat is severely compromised and in many cases, forests have disappeared completely in the short term,” she said.
Everyone involved in ensuring these elephants are safe and well taken care of fear that due to the current scenario, there is a high possibility of the elephants being mistreated by their owners who clearly could be desperate to make more money quickly. Some of the possibilities could include making the elephants beg on the streets or being sold to zoos.
Breaks our hearts!
“The past two months have been extremely challenging, as we have been following herds and their mahouts, trying to keep all fed and watered. However, in the next two months and beyond, with absolutely no income, the situation is about to get critical,” Lek explained.
“We have our own, ethically produced ENP coffee which sells all over the world. We plan to expand this business to offer more opportunities for the local farmers by joining us. We will donate coffee plants to them to start growing immediately. There is no time to waste. There is no time to talk. We must act now.”
Elephant Nature Park, that approximately an hour’s drive north from Chiang Mai, is the main point of financial aid that helps rescued animals. However, due to the pandemic, the sanctuary is closed to the public and not making money. They yet manage to feed more than 3000 animals, some disabled or emotionally unstable.
The organisation is stretching all its branches with the sole motive of earning more financial help to feed the affected animals, nonetheless donations are very much needed.
The organisation reports state that $30 could feed one elephant for a day. “There is no amount too big or small to impact the lives of these animals. 100% of each donation goes directly to Elephant Nature Park and I will share these donations with elephants in other camps as appropriate,” Lek concluded.