Elephants in water at Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary - World Animal Protection - Animals in the wild

Your support is feeding hungry elephants in Thailand


With tourism coming to a halt due to the COVID-19 crisis, many high-welfare elephant venues in Asia have been struggling to care for their elephants. But with your help, we have provided some venues with food and medical care

Header image credit: KSES

Elephant-friendly venues allow tourists to observe elephants feeding, grazing and socialising with each other on their own terms. But due to the coronavirus pandemic, tourism in Thailand has plummeted, putting the lives of captive elephants in grave danger.

But thanks to your help, elephants who were at risk of suffering and starvation, continue to thrive in their safe homes.

We received updates from some of the venues your donations have supported. Read on to see how donations from people like you have made a difference to both elephants and staff.

The team at BEES (Burm and Emily

The team cut food for the elephants at BEES. Image credit: Burm and Emily's Elephant Sanctuary

Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary (KSES), Thailand

Your donations bought corn stalk, Napier grass and banana trees to feed the elephants. Some of the funds supported the mahouts (elephant carers) during this difficult time.

They had a medical emergency with their elephant Gen Thong, where he had a block in his intestine and was sent to the hospital in Lampang. Thankfully, he passed the block rather quickly and recovered swiftly, and after just three nights he was sent home and is now back in the forest with his brother Dodo.

Staff at Kindred said, "Without this support, we would really be struggling. We have many hopes for the future, including potentially taking in more elephants at the end of this crisis.

 "Our biggest hope for the many tourist elephants currently in our area is a shift in tourism to more elephant-friendly models, where they could stay closer to home and spend more time in the forest."

Elephants eating at BLES (Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary)

The 'Gossip Girls' at BLES. Image credit: BLES

Mahout Elephant Foundation (MEF), Thailand

The situation is difficult as they have no guests providing funds to care for the elephants. The venue offers observation-only visits, where tourists can observe the undisturbed elephants from a respectful distance and experience the wonder of these animals living freely.

Staff at the Mahout Elephant Foundation said, "The kind funding from World Animal Protection supporters has been critical in us being able to continue to support our mahouts. They work incredibly hard every single day to ensure the elephants have the best life possible living deep in this beautiful forest."

Elephant with his mahout at Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary

Gen Thong back in the forest after suffering a brief medical emergency. Image credit: Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary

Burm and Emily’s Elephant Sanctuary, Thailand

A massive financial strain was also felt at Burm and Emily’s Elephant Sanctuary. With no income from tourism, managers were almost forced to cut mahout wages for the venue to survive. Thanks to people like you, that was not necessary. The mahouts described what protecting their livelihood means to them.

"This funding means we continue to receive a wage that feeds our families and helps keep our elephants happy and healthy. Without support the sanctuary would have had to cut my wages and this would have made it very hard to support our families."

Elephant eating at Burm and Emily

Mae Kam with her eight-year celebration buffet. Image credit: Burm and Emily's Elephant Sanctuary

Emily McWilliam, the co-founder and manager of the venue aims to give more elephants a new life that’s free from suffering once these difficult times have passed.

Emily said: "We need to make it through these challenging times so we can continue to provide elephants a safe and natural home, bringing more elephants into retirement, further supporting the community and making a positive difference."

Emily shares that their elephants are happy, healthy and continue to thrive in their natural surroundings. One elephant, Thong Dee, grazed her tail, but thankfully has made a full recovery.

Although difficult times have been felt by staff, these concerns have not been shared by the elephants. Instead, two cheeky residents, Mae Kam and Mae Dok, have been busy trying to eat their mahout’s snacks.

He may be just stopping for a refreshing drink and some fruit, but if the elephants smell the sweetness, they will politely ask him to share. See the adorable thief in action below.

Elephant trying to steal her mahout

Elephant reaching for mahout's drink. Image credit: Burm and Emily's Elephant Sanctuary

Thanks to you, these elephants can continue to forage in the forest, socialise and explore their natural environment – just as elephants should.

You can help elephants by choosing not to visit cruel tourist attractions when tourism is back up and running. 

If you want to see elephants, see them in the wild or visit genuine high-welfare attractions. Read our elephant-friendly guide to make sure you avoid wildlife cruelty on holiday.

Our biggest hope for the many tourist elephants currently in our area is a shift in tourism to more elephant-friendly models, where they could stay closer to home and spend more time in the forest.

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