THAILAND: Sustainable Elephant Tourism

Elephant Nature Park is an elephant rescue and rehabilitation center in Northern Thailand where you can volunteer (I did for a few weeks). Fourty years ago official places still counted 3,000 wild elephants and 11,000 captive elephants in Thailand. Now there are just 1000 wild ones and 3500 work elephants left, and more vanishing. Sangduen "Lek" Chailert was born in 1962 in a mountain village north of Chiang Mai. In 2003 she was able to buy a huge piece of land in the north of Thailand with the help of donations and finally start her elephant rescue programme on a bigger scale. The elephant park began small with volunteers and some rescued elephants. Some had car accidents, others were addicted to amphetamines, or were overworked or even tormented by their owners. By now there are more than 50 rescued elephants. Visitors come to learn about the elephants' situation in Asia, as well as having the opportunity to bathe the elephants in the river or to feed them with fruits.

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