A SAFE haven for elephants and a place for you to escape, this is all that is needed to describe The Elephant Nature Park (ENP) in Thailand located in the Chiang Mai Province.
Deep in rural settings, you will come across a picturesque sight of beautiful landscape surrounded by jungle.
This is one of the only places elephants in Thailand can come and not be subject to torturous training methods, where they are continuously stabbed and beaten in order to perform tricks for the passing tourists.
Earlier this year I had my hopes set on seeing an actual elephant, not one locked up in a zoo or one made to perform, but one in its natural habitat.
So after doing my research I settled on Thailand and found out about The Elephant Nature Park. After great feedback and recommendations from the guidebooks, I was sold.
Even more so when I saw the prices.
For £250 a week you got your accommodation, three meals a day and time to spend and work with the elephants, it was indeed the best money I have ever spent.
When you arrive you are put into different work groups and each day you have two tasks that need completing. This is because the ENP reply upon the work and help of the volunteers to keep everything running.
As well as this we all attended talks that were very educational and extremely eye opening.
We were told about how each and nearly every elephant in the park had been through extreme suffering in their lives, about how they were beaten and tortured by their previous mahouts (elephant trainers) and some even blinded!
Despite the fact that the emblem of the elephant represents Thailand and they are considered sacred animals, the country still believes in hurting them to make them passive and trainable.
This form of traditional training is called “the Crush.” It is a method of torture that is bestowed upon each elephant to crush their spirit and make them easy to control.
It involves forcing young elephants into wooden cages and beating and stabbing them until they succumb to the mahouts demands.
This goes on for days and many elephants don’t survive this traumatic process, but if they do they are then forced into a hard life of entertaining tourists, being badly beaten and underfed.
See The Visitor (13-03-12) for full story.