Over Easter, Thailand has celebrated Thai New Year. This festival involves a lot of water – appropriate as April is supposedly the hottest month in Thailand!
Elephants love water and the entire elephant community throw themselves exuberantly into the festivities.
This is certainly an optimistic season for the elephant village I visit regularly. The mahouts recently moved into brand new accommodation. I’m visiting in July and looking forward to viewing the changes first-hand.
If Songkran looks a little ‘full-on’ for you I will be offering a (slightly more) sedate opportunity to join the locals in October/November 2017. Loy Krathong rejoices in the end of the rainy season and the sense of renewal that brings…think lanterns and floating flower offerings instead of water fights!
As usual, this visit to Thailand will focus on elephants…rewarding you with the opportunity to live in a village dedicated to the continuation of this remarkable species in an ever-changing world.
You will enjoy an extremely hands-on experience working hard to ensure the ‘retired’ elephant in your care benefits from your hard work…think a little boot camp/maximum fun…giving you a wonderful chance to live and learn about elephants in human care.
Visit www.elephant-encounters.com for more information.
Ian & Donna were my first American tour participants and I couldn’t resist sharing their romantic background story.
They met at a Starbucks coffee-house… Ian was an expert in the Starbucks system as he studied there using their wifi and naturally had tried many of their products…Donna was a novice in desperate need of a caffeine fix. Ian walked Donna through her first Starbucks experience and the rest, as they say, is history.
On that first meeting, Donna was wearing a t-shirt with an elephant motif. Attention to detail is one of Ian’s strengths and he soon realised almost all her t-shirts featured elephants. When the time came to ‘pop the question’ Ian knew he wanted a unique ring to commemorate the occasion and sourced a wonderful double-headed elephant design that Donna would not be able to resist. Ian then set about finding his “trip of a life-time” and cemented his offer to Donna by booking a pre-honeymoon holiday with www.elephant-encounters.com so that Donna could experience her first hands-on contact with elephants. Irresistable!!
I wish them every happiness together.
In August, I added two new National Parks to my travel itinerary and what a wonderful discovery they were!
Kui Buri is beautifully managed with visitors only able to access the Park for 4 hours of the day, always accompanied by a ranger and with the added security of footbaths on access and departure.
Along with my eight guests, I saw many elephants…families with calves, solitary bulls (both tusked and tuskless) and interesting interaction between bulls and families. Matriachs led their groups to and from waterholes and gathered calves to prevent clashes with bulls intent on accessing fertile cows within the groups.
We witnessed waterplay, dust-bathing and feeding.
Apparently, there are approximately 237 elephants in the Park with an estimated carrying capacity of 400. The human-elephant conflict on the Park borders is minimal and with no known poaching for the past few years, the outlook for these wild elephants looks good.
We even had the added bonus of spotting Gaur!
It was an absolute pleasure to bring in some tourism dollars to support the rangers and help secure a sustainable future for elephants in Thailand. This National Park will definitely be in my itinerary for July 2017!
The youngest mahout
Traditional blessings for all
National Elephant Day
I visit Thailand with a small group of tourists every year to celebrate this special day surrounded by people who value and appreciate elephants, who devote their daily lives to the care of these unique creatures in a modern setting.
Few who have had a close experience with an elephant could doubt they have great intelligence and complex emotions.
I like to pay my respects to the expertise and elephant knowledge built up over many centuries and the best way I can do that is pay for the experience, thereby ensuring elephants and their human carers continue to thrive.
Exploring National Parks with experts!
6-20 August 2016
You can now reserve your spot!
Every tour with Elephant Encounters includes a week in an elephant village where you take care of an elephant (under expert guidance). Learning first-hand their individual personalities and helping ensure a sustainable future for these wonderful animals is such a privilege! The tour will also celebrate World Elephant Day with the local community.
Equally interesting is the elephant’s role and future in the wild, mostly confined to National Parks these days!
So, during this trip we will visit two unique National Parks – Kui Buri and Sam Roi Yot. Both offer distinctive glimpses into exceptional habitats and species. Our boutique group size (maximum 8 people) will enable us to make the most of our viewing opportunities!
For more information, visit www.elephant-encounters.com
In March, you can check out Elephant Encounters on FB for first-hand info during my next trip to Thailand.
Bookings for this trip have closed but I’m excited to be returning to the Elephantstay village to witness changes and progress over the past few months and see the latest calves that have been welcomed since my last visit. Kamlaiphet delivered little ‘Tina’ (pictured right) on 1 Feb in the middle of the day! Highly unusual as babies are usually born during the night…
Once again, I’d like to thank everyone who supported our recent fundraising efforts to purchase a new, safe motorbike with side-cart for the Elephantstay community.
Together we raised close to $4000.
The new fully-functional transport will make a huge difference to the lives of the village mahouts, enabling them to spend more time caring for the elephants…and a lot less in keeping the old vehicle running!Expect to see a smiling photo of Gik when the new bike arrives! 🙂
I was blown away by my visit to Kennedy Space Centre! We were primarily on a music-driven trip to the USA but Florida had a lot to offer and the Space Centre exceeded expectations.
Whilst being driven around the Space Centre we were treated to the sight of a manatee basking in the warm brackish water. We also saw a huge Bald eagle nest in a large dead tree. These eagles pair for life and the same couple had been adding to that nest for the past 20 years. Their nests can weigh over 350kg! March-September is their breeding season.
On the basis of those sightings, we decided to visit the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge is an overlay of the John F. Kennedy Space Centre and provides a buffer zone for NASA’s space program. Approximately half of the 140,000 acres consists of brackish estuaries and marshes. The remaining lands consist of coastal dunes, scrub oaks, pine forests and flatwoods, and palm and oak hammocks. This area very importantly provides a variety of habitats for over 500 wildlife species. Apparently up to 400 manatees live here! It’s also a bird watcher’s paradise.
Just as we crossed the bridge toward the Refuge we came across at least 7 manatees enjoying each others company. Beautiful animals, hard to photograph!
Unfortunately, we ran out of daylight so another adventure to add to my ‘bucket list’…
Warning for the inexperienced… Don’t drive towards Merritt Island from the Space Centre! This wildlife refuge is best accessed from Titusville. If you need an address to plug into your GPS then (Canaveral National Seashore) 212 S Washington Ave, Titusville, FL 32796 will bring you to the access point. Bring plenty of insect repellent, water, sunscreen etc!!
The basics of life are food, water and shelter. Everything else is a bonus. In the animal care world we call that Enrichment – used to improve the quality of life; providing stimulation of some kind perhaps physical, mental and/or social.
On Saturday, Jane (a dedicated elephant keeper) showed me a very impressive structure in San Diego’s Elephant paddock providing all that!
The ‘Tree’ has rough concrete sides for the elephants to rub against (exfoliation is top priority for pachyderms), there are mesh cages in the sides where hay and other food can be inserted. On top you can see there’s shade. There’s also winches on timers so that hay bags etc can be filled early in the day and timed to drop down at intervals for perhaps 15 minutes at a time. Fabulous…encouraging elephants to think, plan and move around to get their food!
We’re staying next door to an Alpaca Stud at the moment. Most of the males are housed separately from each other to avoid fights. Fighting can involve ‘necking’ but can escalate to trying to bite off the testicles of the opponent!
It’s World Elephant Day today – 12 August!
A day when all people and organisations around the world come together and unite to help save this incredible species from extinction…a newsletter seems fitting!
National Elephant Day in March was a highlight of our visit to Elephantstay.
Each elephant had its own celebratory table of delicious treats, seen here being carefully arranged by Merri and Lyn. School groups, families, monks and local dignitaries joined us to celebrate the unique place elephants hold in Thailand’s history and culture.
Elephantstay provides safe homes and incomes for many elephants and their breeding program to fight extinction is the most successful I’ve heard of. Barb enjoyed her chance to meet the latest newborn sleeping peacefully with her mother.
Awareness-raising and education are the keys to fighting extinction and social justice
Highlights from this year’s visits to Khao Yai National Park have been very varied indeed. We’ve explored the area’s beautiful cloud forest, listened to gibbon songs, observed troupes of pig-tailed macacques, sighted Samba and Barking deer, Hornbills, Serows, micro bats and a huge variety of insect life. Our groups have joined in teaching sessions with children from International Schools and supported blind children from Thailand’s Orchestra for the Blind while they enjoyed swimming and even diving lessons.
Alongkot Chukaew continues to draw passionate people together intent on making
a better future for Thailand’s people and wildlife.
Snorkeling in Krabi at the end of our July trip was wonderful – great company, clear warm water and so many fish!
- Early October: Neil and Matt will be in Melbourne. If you’re keen to catch up with these dedicated Elephantstayers let me know!
- 8 November – pre Christmas fundraiser. Details TBC
- March 5 -21 Next trip to Thailand – filling fast so please register your interest asap
Warm regards Jenny Dickens m 0400 594 773
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