The prime minister of Thailand has pledged to take steps to change the country’s currently legal domestic ivory trade in order to help protect endangered elephants. Currently, it is permitted to sell items created from the ivory of the 2,500 wild elephants living in Thailand.
The government issued the statement after receiving a petition from 1.5 million people around the world. The prime minister plans to begin a program to register all Thai elephants being kept in captivity and make Thailand a strong ally in the fight against illicit trafficking in ivory (largely from African elephants).
For tourism, this is a chance for operators of elephant camps to educate visitors about animal needs. One such program is woman founded and operated.
Elephantstay at the Royal Elephant Kraal & Village in Ayutthaya (about an hour and half north of Bangkok), is a fantastic way to get hands-on experience and make a real difference to the lives of elephants.
At Elephantstay you will encounter 80 newborn to retired elephants, including killer and dangerous elephants that have found a safe haven in the village. Since 2000 when the first baby was born in the breeding program, there have been 54 successful births. At the time of our visit, one was just two weeks old and already weighing in at a 200 kilos.
The Elephantstay Experience
Stay in the most exciting, innovative, working elephant village in Asia, dedicated to conserving elephants.
Elephantstay is all about creating a sustainable future for elephants under the Phra Kochabaan Foundation. Volunteers’ participation in the program directly benefits the welfare of their 80 elephants. The program involves living with, caring for, and learning about elephants while working with the villagers who train them.
Lesbian managers Michelle and Ewa (from Melbourne) say “Every day you will ride, feed, water and bathe your elephant in the river. Our program allows you to form a personal relationship with your elephant and be a part of practical elephant conservation that contributes to their survival.”
Elephantstay offers large, comfortable, air-conditioned, Thai style bungalows with private bathroom and hot shower. Being right in the centre of the village means the volunteers enjoy a very intimate experience and get to be a real part of the village community and a perfect vantage point to watch the elephants walking to the river if you choose not to ride.
Now, that is an amazing opportunity.