With tourism coming to a halt due to the COVID-19 crisis, many high-welfare elephant venues in Asia are struggling to care for their elephants. With your help, they have been able to provide food and medical care throughout this difficult time.
Elephant-friendly venues allow tourists to observe elephants feeding, grazing and socialising with each other on their own terms. But due to the coronavirus pandemic, tourism in Thailand has plummeted, putting the lives of captive elephants in grave danger.
But thanks to your help, elephants who were at risk of suffering and starvation, continue to thrive in their safe homes.
We received updates from some of the venues your donations have supported. Here’s how your donation has made a difference to both elephants and staff.
The team cut food for the elephants at BEES. Image credit: Burm and Emily's Elephant Sanctuary
Your donations bought corn stalk, Napier grass and banana trees to feed the elephants. Some of the funds supported the mahouts (elephant carers) during this difficult time.
They had a medical emergency with their elephant Gen Thong, where he had a block in his intestine and was sent to the hospital in Lampang. Thankfully, he passed the block rather quickly and recovered swiftly, and after just three nights he was sent home and is now back in the forest with his brother Dodo.
The staff at Kindred said, “without this support, we would really be struggling. We have many hopes for the future, including potentially taking in more elephants at the end of this crisis.”
They continued, “Our biggest hope for the many tourist elephants currently in our area, is a shift in tourism to more elephant-friendly models, where they could stay closer to home and spend more time in the forest.”
The 'Gossip Girls' at BLES. Image credit: BLES
Mahout Elephant Foundation (MEF), Thailand
The situation is difficult as they have no guests providing funds to care for the elephants. The venue offers observation-only visits, where tourists can observe the undisturbed elephants from a respectful distance and experience the wonder of these animals living freely.
Staff at the Mahout Elephant Foundation said, “The kind funding from World Animal Protection supporters has been critical in us being able to continue to support our mahouts. They work incredibly hard every single day to ensure the elephants have the best life possible living deep in this beautiful forest.”
Gen Thong back in the forest after suffering a brief medical emergency. Image credit: Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary
Burm and Emily’s Elephant Sanctuary
A massive financial strain was also felt at Burm and Emily’s Elephant Sanctuary. With no income from tourism, managers were almost forced to cut mahout wages for the venue to survive. Thanks to you, that was not necessary. The mahouts described what protecting their livelihood means to them.
“This funding means we continue to receive a wage that feeds our familiesand helps keep our elephants happy and healthy. Without support thesanctuary would have had to cut my wages and this would have made itvery hard to support our families.”
Mae Kam with her eight-year celebration buffet. Image credit: Burm and Emily's Elephant Sanctuary
Emily McWilliam, the co-founder and manager of the venue aims to give more elephants a new life that’s free from suffering once these difficult times have passed.
“We need to make itthrough these challenging times so we can continue to provide elephantsa safe and natural home, bringing more elephants into retirement,further supporting the community and making a positive difference.”
Emily shares that their elephants are happy,healthy and continue to thrive in their natural surroundings. One elephant, Thong Dee, grazed her tail, but thankfully has made a full recovery.
Although difficult times have been felt by staff, these concerns have not been shared by the elephants. Instead, two cheeky residents, Mae Kam and Mae Dok, have been busy trying to eat their mahout’s snacks. He may be just stopping for a refreshingdrink and some fruit, but if the girlssmell the sweetness, they will politely ask him to share! Look at the adorable thief in action in the photo below!
Elephant reaching for mahout's drink. Image credit: Burm and Emily's Elephant Sanctuary
Thanks to you, these elephants can continue to forage in the forest, socialise and explore their natural environment – just as elephants should.
While tourism in Thailand is affected by the coronavirus pandemic, these elephants need your help. Your donations will help keeping them safe and fed throughout this crisis.