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.
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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! 🙂
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!