Rescuing the elephants

A beautiful sunrise in the elephant camp as the mahouts collect their animals for another dayA beautiful sunrise in the elephant camp as the mahouts collect their animals for another day | S00306 

 

Location: Chiang Rai, Thailand
Date: 19 December 2012
Photographer: Andy Callan

There really is no doubting the importance of the elephant in Thailand. Their likeness is everywhere, whether as a painting, a sculpture, printed on t-shirts or depicted on every possible manner of tourist tat you can imagine. The name itself, Thailand, means the land of the white elephant. It’s a cruel irony then that the elephant can be so greatly revered by the people of Thailand, and still be so poorly treated. For many years the elephant was employed in a number of industries in the country, principally logging. But after the ban on domestic logging in Thailand’s rainforests in 1989, hundreds of elephants and their handlers (mahouts) were suddenly made redundant. The mahouts, many fourth of fifth generation keepers, having no other skills to fall back on, brought their animals into the cities to try and scratch a living by begging and using the elephants as tourist draws. The distress this caused came from many different sources; pollution, heat, dehydration and, of course, the constant traffic. The Anantara Golden Triangle elephant sanctuary in Chiang Rai has rescued 33 elephants from this situation, as well as their mahouts and families. Located in the north of the country, on the border of Myanmar and Laos, the luxury resort and spa aims to educate its guests as well as providing visitors with an unforgettable experience of interacting with these beautiful creatures.

 

The elephants waking up in their clearing in the resortThe elephants waking up in their clearing in the resort | S00307 

 

A mahout and his elephant watch the sunrise over the Golden triangleA mahout and his elephant watch the sunrise over the Golden triangle | S00308 

 

A mahout stands proudly with his elephant, which he has raised since birthA mahout stands proudly with his elephant, which he has raised since birth | S00310 

 

Mahout washes his elephant in the Mae Kok RiverMahout washes his elephant in the Mae Kok River | S00313 

 

A stroll through the hills above the Golden TriangleA stroll through the hills above the Golden Triangle | S00318 

 

Sunshine the elephant giving a visitor a rideSunshine the elephant giving a visitor a ride | S00314 

 

A baby elephant being used as a tourist draw on the streets of Chiang MaiA baby elephant being used as a tourist draw on the streets of Chiang Mai | S00315 

 

An elephant parade through the resort groundsAn elephant parade through the resort grounds | S00321 

 

A close up study of two of the resorts elephantsA close up study of two of the resort’s elephants | S00301 

 

An adult elephant in Nong Khai being used to entertain tourists at a restaurantAn adult elephant in Nong Khai being used to entertain tourists at a restaurant | S00302 

 
[click to view the complete set of images]
 

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>