Once again T and I were up at 7am for another day of adventures. We had paid B2500 (around 50 pounds) to go the Elephant Nature Reserve Park, one of the things I had been most excited about before leaving for Thailand.
What makes this park so special and different from other Elephant Parks is that all the elephants kept there have been rescued from a heartbreaking background.
We were introduced to Jokia, an elephant rescued from illegal tree logging. Jokia was pregnant and went into labour whilst working. Her owners refused to let her stop and once she had given birth the baby rolled down the hill and died whilst still in the sac. Elephants are pregnant for two years, human mothers are unbelievable connected and attached to their babies after only being pregnant for 9 months, losing a baby after 2 years would be even more heartbreaking. Jokia was devastated and refused to work. The owners wouldn't take no for an answer. To force her to work they used slingshots to fire rocks and sharp objects into her eyes making her completely blind.
Then there was a Hope. A baby rescued from a near village after he got really sick when his mother died when he was just 2 years old. The villagers had planned to use a method called 'The Training Crush', to break this baby elephants spirit, allowing them to ride him. The Training Crush, is where a baby elephant is separated from his mother and forced into a space barely big enough to contain it. The people would then beat it and poke it with sharp sticks and objects until the elephant obeys. The memory and fear of the pain makes the elephants listen.
|This elephant isn't Hope as Hope is now fully grown!|
Each elephants story is just as heartbreaking and at some points during the day I was on the verge of tears.
The woman who set this park up is an incredible person. Lek Chailert has dedicated her life to rescuing elephants in need and is a truly inspiring person, if the world was filled with people like her it would be a bright, better and happier place.
Throughout the day we got to feed, wash and stroke the elephants. It's amazing being so close to them and seeing them so happy after all that they've tolerated. It must be an incredible feeling knowing that they'll never have to work again and they have a safe home. It really was one of the best things I have ever done and I couldn't recommend it more. All money goes to helping the elephants and you can even volunteer for a whole week for just B5000.
If you ever go to Chiang Mai, go do it. It's worth every penny!