Liberated Elephants - The Muddening
Visiting elephant in Thailand was always something I was extremely wary about, there are so many places that treat these beautiful creatures badly that still in 2017 get tourists visiting them.. It really does blow my mind to see posters advertising elephants riding and actually think that people my age are doing this sort of stuff!
The big problem is ignorance. People just simply don't care enough to do any research into what they throw their money at. If anyone was to actually look into the kind of practices that take place to condition these elephants into submission so that they allow people to ride them, they would be horrified! But then again, if people were to look into the kind of life a cow or chicken is given before its turned into food they would probably never eat factory farmed meat again.. But then again this brings up the subject of the horse meat scandal in the UK, where people value one animals life higher than another, people can be disgusted by the treatment of elephants and then happily sit down for lunch to eat a animal which suffered all the same. (PS: I don't believe eating meat is a bad thing, if you eat meat that has come from an animal that lived a good life and wasn't mass farmed or stuck in small cages then that's fair enough)
Anyway, the elephants, that's why we're here! As you can probably guess, I visited a elephant sanctuary where a small number of elephants who used to be used for riding are now free to roam the fields and do whatever they like (as long as they like getting muddy, swimming in the lake and eating lots of food fed to them by humans).
The owners who used to make money from the riding tourism have been visited by the Elephant Nature Park founders, who introduced them to the idea of tourism that means no harm to the elephants. This way the owners are happy, the elephants are happy and the tourists can leave happy!
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The day consisted of feeding the elephants breakfast followed by a hour or so of 'free time' in which the elephants just roamed around their fields and ate grass, this was an amazing experience being able to just walk freely amongst these massive creatures, it was also a great opportunity to photograph them behaving naturally.
Then it was time for the humans to be fed, we walked with the elephants towards our little shaded hut and had a great vegetarian lunch. Afterwards was time for the muddening to begin.. we gathered around the mud hole and awaited their arrival, sure enough they came.. and they sure got muddy! And so did everyone there, the elephants kicked and squirted mud everywhere and we threw some mud back at them.
Bathing time was up next, we joined them in the river to splash about and enjoy the sounds of enjoyment coming from them! The day finished with another feeding session, and then we watched them wander off to enjoy the rest of their day as we left..
The sad thing about all this is that these elephants will never be released back into the wild, primarily because they will just be caught again, they have become tame to humans and this is there downfall, capturers will have an easy time luring them back into captivity. At least with this current trend towards 'no riding' in the tourism business, elephants who once faced a life of performing, torture and captivity can now enjoy a life of less misery.
Planning on visiting a elephant sanctuary while in Asia? Let me know how it went in the comments..
Thanks for reading!
Taran here, owner of Nomad'er How Far. I'm fond of psychedelic rock, photography & videography, anything to do with space and I'm also partial to the odd gaming session. Oh and I love to travel :P Get to know me here!
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