If you’re travelling in Thailand and you want an amazing experience that helps elephants in need and a whole Thai community, why not become a volunteer mahout? You will get to bare-back ride your elephant, feed and take care of them, even swim with them in the local river. More than that, you will learn to recognise the individuality of your elephant’s personality. Elephants are clever – some love to perform and even to paint! Bonding with my elephant, Sinuwan, was quite a meaningful experience – seeing how smart elephants are, how aware, increases one’s respect for all living beings – which is a very Thai Buddhist sort of feeling.
Prices start from $400 for one person for a 3 day, 2 night stay – and you can book longer stays. Your accommodation and EXCELLENT food is included – the wives of the mahouts of the Elephant village cook fantastic Thai - they can accommodate vegetarians and those who can’t handle chili. I’m a pretty prissy person, but the wonderful bamboo bungalows have air con and clean, adequate individual bathrooms. Spending time in this Ayuthaya village which is only 1 hour out of Bangkok means you experience true Thai culture and history – The Kraal where you stay is a Heritage listed site.
Please see the Elephantstay website for further information: www.elephantstay.com/index.php?lay=show&ac=article&Id=336255
If you’re not the traveling kind, there are other ways to help the elephants: www.elephantstay.com/index.php?lay=show&ac=article&Id=539150765
Why should people do this?
The Elephantstay program is a not for profit organisation which lets volunteer mahouts help take care of older elephants who are too old for work. In Thailand, many mahouts are too poor to let their elephants retire, and worker elephants cannot be returned to the wild, so many of these beautiful creatures have to work when they are elderly, be sold off, or worse. Elephant stay also rehabilitates elephants which have been a nuisance to their community and makes sure that putting an elephant to death is never the answer. The Elephant Kraal is also home to stray cats, dogs, parrots and monkeys – it is truly a home for all of Thailand’s animal homeless!
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© 2008. First published on actnow.com.au
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