Today is World Elephant Day – a day to honour and respect all that it means to be elephant. But what exactly does this mean ?
Elephants should be able to make their own choices in life. They should be in charge of where they want to go and what they want to do. They should have access to endless amounts of natural fodder and should be protected by their family or friendship groups. They should be free of human invasion and they should, very simply, be happy.
There are estimated to be 2000-4000 captive elephants in living in Thailand today. The majority of these elephants work in tourism, performing in shows, giving rides, posing for photos…. Most of these elephants do not have access to a natural or healthy diet. A number of these elephants spend their days tethered on a short chain to a post, standing in rancid puddles of their own urine, surrounded by piles of old dung and trash and have nothing but sky-high hotels and shopping plazas to look at. Many of these elephants stereotype, limp, pace and display aggressive behaviour and I think it is about time more people are asking WHY??
We live in a very privileged society. We have access to limitless information, literally at our fingertips. We can Google search any single thought that drifts in to our head and this is why I am left, day after day, frustrated and confused.
I travel the beautiful Kingdom of Thailand extensively, researching and gathering documentation on the captive elephant situation. I am always left feeling let down. Not let down by the camps or even by the owners of the camps or mahouts of the elephants. My disappointment is directed at the tourists and the thoughtless, selfish way they scramble on to the backs of the elephants, laugh and take photographs of the calves performing their gymnastic displays and walk past the elephants as they swing from side to side out of desperation. I can not fathom how someone travelling to Thailand would not do their research and read all the well thought out blogs, articles and posts that are so readily available on the internet and I honestly feel that there is no excuse in today’s world, for not knowing how damaging your fifteen minute ride or thirty minute show is for these elephants.
Where you spend your money matters and really does make a difference. On this day – World Elephant Day, I ask you to PLEASE think twice about using elephants, tigers, horses, monkeys, etc for your personal pleasure, for your selfie, for your fifteen minutes of fun. Please take the time to find out exactly how your actions affect these animals who are generally kept in appalling conditions, because there are so many eco and ele friendly projects out there, that can offer you a meaningful, unique and safe experience that ensures the wellbeing of everyone – you and the elephant.
Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary – BLES has been striving forward in our mission to provide true sanctuary for all the animals in our care, since our inception ten years ago. Here at BLES, our seventeen elephants live peacefully and freely and thrive in our care. We have an expert team of mahouts who share a combined passion, wealth of knowledge, hands on experience and deep understanding of humane elephant management. On this World Elephant Day, I want to celebrate each and every one of our mahouts, because without them and their devotion and dedication, our elephants would not be able to be what they were born to be – elephants.
Our BLESele family has been enjoying spending long, lazy days grazing in the forested land BLES has protected for them. All the recent storms have ensured a plentiful supply of lush foliage for them to feast on and lots of muddy pools for them to splash in.
There is no greater joy than watching one of our elephants wander through the forest, snapping off branches and stopping only to have a good scratch on a tree, before they soak their feet in the stream and spend hours throwing thick, wet mud all over their body. Our elephants do not have a care in the world and this is how we wish all captive elephants could live…. By working together, sharing knowledge, raising awareness and leading by example – I believe all captive elephant CAN live like this.
As I end this entry, I wonder how long it will take for people to realise that if it is wrong to sit on top of an elephant, then it is just as wrong to sit under one. Elephants are not here for our ego boosting exercises or personal gain. They are not here to serve us in any way, shape or form. Elephants are here, walking this earth, to simply and beautifully, be.