Traditionally, elephants have been used for manual labor and logging. Once that became illegal, many tribes, like the Karen people in the hills of Chiang Mai, began renting their elephants to Elephant Camps where they perform and carry over half a ton on their back to allow people to ride them. In order to get them to follow orders, these incredibly intelligent, emotional animals are broken through a process called phajaan where they’re made to fear humans, especially their mahout.
Like humans, elephants have unique personalities, will mourn the death (or forceful separation) of family and friends, comfort other elephants who are suffering, and can learn new things rapidly and pass that knowledge onto other elephants. They also have remarkable recall and emotional intelligence – there have even been reports of elephants recognizing each other after more than 20 years!
@elephantnaturepark purchases elephants out of performing camps, logging ventures, and street begging, and begins the process of rehabilitating them, one-by-one. They now have around 75 elephants thriving under their care. We spent the day with 4 elephants in the Karen village, showing them love, learning about their lives, and experiencing the beautiful relationship that elephants have with each other and the people who love them.
Even though the Asian elephant is endangered, with less than 30,000 remaining today, poachers continue to search out families with baby elephants, tranquilize the parents, and steal the baby out of the wild. I’d urge you to learn more.
Ban Yang Khun Wang, Chiang Mai, Thailand