February 28, 2016
How To Care For A Thai Elephant
Written By Leonardo Gubinelli
The Elephant Village is located in one of the most authentic and genuine parts of Thailand, located about an hour from Surin. The area is a beautiful sight! The villagers are some of the most welcoming and friendly people you’ll ever meet, they’ll instantly make you feel like at home. This village has lived amongst and worked with elephants for generations, so much so that the elephants are considered to be part of the family. The training of domestic elephants by mahouts is a centuries old tradition. A mahout is someone who works with and rides an elephant. Typically, a mahout is a life-long job – a boy will be assigned an elephant early in its life and they will form a strong bond and spend their lives together. Traditionally elephants were largely trained for logging to support the local community. With the ban of the logging industry and increased mechanisation, the last 30 years or so saw life become more and more challenging for the mahouts and the local community. Mahouts were forced to take their elephants into urban areas to beg, sell photo opportunities and even rent their elephants to shows for local and overseas tourists alike – obviously an awful situation for the elephants and the communities who had been reliant on them for so long.
This opportunity to live with and learn about the elephants and their community, allows the elephants to remain in the village with the community and to lead a much more peaceful life thanks to the sustainable income that is generated through the programme fees. A great balance between supporting the community, the lives of the elephants and the way that traditional elephant villages have been operating for generations.
This is a fantastic, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live as and work with real Thai Mahouts. Spend your time each week learning how to work with, feed and wash the elephants and gain a great insight into the unique setting of a rural Thai Elephant village. Please note that we do not condone the riding of elephants by any visitors and it is strictly prohibited, the only person who can ride the elephants is their individual mahout. The bond between the mahout and elephant is very special and culturally complex thus should be respected.
Experience first hand an authentic Thai community lifestyle, help with cooking meals, farming the land, and even help to teach the local kids a few words of English. This opportunity really is something very special – the village may not be luxurious but the experience and insight you’ll gain is worth way more than a week or two in a 5* resort.
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