photo: Oz Go
A heavy metal chair. A 14+ hour workday parading tourists around. With little time to eat, baking hot conditions, exhausting hours, and no days off this is life 365 days a year for most elephants in South East Asia.
Elephants are forced to live like this because of the tourism industry’s demand for cheap rides and photo ops. The good news is that by changing the demand we can end the abuse. Across the river from The Chai Lai Orchid Eco Lodge, 11 elephants live and work. Four of those elephants, including DeeDee, are babies. While they are too small for chair rides now, they will soon grow up and join their friends in their backbreaking toil. It doesn’t have to be this way though. With your help, we can change the tide of tourism in Thailand.
Volunteer and Live with Rescued Elephants:
We have rescued and retired elephants from logging and abuse. You can visit them in their new beautiful home and help us continue to care for them. They live in a jungle sanctuary 1 hour and 45 minutes from downtown at the Chai Lai Sisters camp.
WHAT WE'VE ACHIEVED
We have rescued 5 elephants and counting
Provided care and food for 11 elephants so they only need to work part time
Rented land with a river for bathing for the retired elephants
Provided fair wages and elephant care education for elephant caretakers
Between our social business and donations we have been able to raise about ½ our target amount, which means we are currently able to rent the elephants for half of the day, during which they have ample time for resting, take plenty of baths in the river to cool off, and only do bareback rides or none at all.
We have also been successful raising awareness about ethical tours among elephant owners and mahouts in the area. Several camp owners now prefer to work with our guests because the interactions benefit the elephants and want to retire more elephants.
The Truth about helping elephants
While we have not yet met our goal of 600,000 thb per month to rescue all of the elephants from the neighboring camp, we have had some major victories. We have been overwhelmed by both support - and backlash - toward the project. We receive (among other attempts to undermine our efforts) death threats from owners of some larger companies who are well-connected in the elephant tourism industry and/or make their money off chair rides. Many feel that our campaign advocating for bare back rides/ and or walking vs chair rides and causes them to lose business.
4 ways you can help Now
Tell your family and friends. These elephants might be loud, but they can’t speak our language. Use your voice to spread to word about their plight. Share about DeeDee on social media #DontLetDeeDeeDown #Elephants #Thailand #ChiangMai #ChaiLaiOrchid
Tweet at advocates for animal rights and tell them to come meet DeeDee and MowKapa! Let’s encourage them to use their influence to help elephants!
Elephants are very expensive to care for because they need jungle to roam in, rivers for bathing and drinking and 150 kg of food per day. You can get your office to adopt an elephant, host a fundraiser to rescue elephants. Any donations big or small helps. Just $10 pays for herbal medicine treatment for a sick elephant.
Come visit them! The most sustainable way to help these elephants is simply to support ethical elephant tours so that they can earn enough money for a safe home, an abundance of food and quality 24 hour care.
4. Educate yourself
Elephants are big business in Thailand and many companies craft emotional pleas without facts and use business models that only serve to make money and actually hurt elephant conservation efforts. Check out our FAQs to learn to separate fact from fiction.