Saving Thailand’s Elephants

Emily and Ryan write to us from deep in the Thai jungle at a wildlife sanctuary where they have met a few new friends, including 34 elephants that call this nature park home.

Greetings Earth Rangers!!
We are writing you now from deep in the Thai jungle at a wildlife sanctuary called Elephant Nature Park. The park is located an hour outside of Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand and is home to 34 elephants.

Elephant Conservation Centre Thailand

Elephant Conservation Centre, Chiang Mai Thailand. Photo Credit: Ryan Appleby and Emily Denstedt

The Asian elephant is an endangered species and travelling here has given us the opportunity to work with this amazing animal that we would never have had the chance to work with at home.

Elephant Nature Park was founded by a woman named Lek, which means small in Thai, but her capacity to love is huge. She does everything she can to save elephants and along the way has rescued hundreds of dogs, two herds of cattle, three horses, countless cats, 10 wild boar and one goat.

Elephant herd Chiang Mai Thailand

Elephant herd. Photo Credit: Ryan Appleby and Emily Denstedt

In Thailand, elephants were mainly used for logging forests and were treated quite poorly by their owners for most of the 20th century. In 1989 logging was banned and this left thousands of domesticated elephants out of work. Many were abandoned, some sold into illegal logging, others shipped to neighboring countries where they could still participate in logging. Most of those remaining in Thailand were put to work carrying tourists in “trekking camps” or begging for money on city streets. In either situation the elephants are malnourished, and treated poorly by their owners, going through horrible training rituals to make them “behave” for work in the tourist industry.

elephant bath

Elephant bath time. Ryan Appleby and Emily Denstedt

Here at Elephant Nature Park the handlers or “mahouts” are not allowed to use force to get the elephants to do things. Every animal that grows up on the park is trained by positive reinforcement and it is truly a safe haven for these brilliant animals.

Unfortunately, the elephants are not without their health problems. Coming from abusive backgrounds many have chronic injuries that need treatments, others have legs injured by landmines during logging operations. And as all of them age and grow together they have medical needs, which is where we were able to help out.

There are currently eight elephants that receive daily medical treatments. Most of these treatments are chronic foot injuries, that require daily cleaning and medications. Some of these wounds are quite serious and have taken many months (and in some cases years) to resolve. Each morning we are are responsible for cleaning the foot abscesses of 3 elephants, giving them medications and bandaging their feet. In the afternoon we repeat these treatments and treat 5 other minor wounds. Each day brings with it a new challenge as the treatments must change to suit the state of the wound and the elephants themselves often become impatient with the treatments.

elephant toe cleaning thailand

Elephant foot cleaning. Photo Credit: Ryan Appleby and Emily Denstedt

Working with these animals every day is incredibly rewarding and yet carries with it all the risks of working with wildlife. They are large and powerful and their life in an open habitat makes working with them dangerous at some points. Despite all this, it is an experience we wouldn’t trade for the world. Elephants are a brilliant species and are endangered as a result of human interference. Being able to contribute to a place like elephant nature park means a lot to animal lovers like us.

Check back in next week for another update from Ryan and Emily as they continue to help Thailand’s elephants.

Follow all of the Global Vet’s teams as they blog about their adventures in India, Thailand, South America and East Africa

Earth Rangers is a non-profit organization that works to inspire and educate children about the environment. At EarthRangers.com kids can play games, discover amazing facts, meet animal ambassadors and fundraise to protect biodiversity.
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Rating: 5.0/5 (7 votes cast)
Saving Thailand's Elephants, 5.0 out of 5 based on 7 ratings
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21 Comments

  1. Limey says:

    I love elephants

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  2. Ash-2010 says:

    I like that they are helping the elephants!

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  3. pikka22 says:

    yay

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  4. babylka says:

    I really hope that these precious animals will stay with us and won’t go extinct thank you earth rangers!

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  5. babylka says:

    Elephants are really interesting animals. Did you know that they are very smart and are one of the few animals that can paint without human help?

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  6. babylka says:

    Did you know that elephants are kind of like dogs, they are very smart and obedient, are sentimental towards other elephants and humans, and are generally beautiful animals.

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    Magg5860 Reply:

    that is cool I never knew that thanks for sharing

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  7. babylka says:

    Elephants are one of my favorite animals!(:

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  8. Immanuel21 says:

    elephants are so cool

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  9. kam1234 says:

    awesome

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