The Only Truly Ethical Tourist Attraction In Phuket
The recently opened Phuket Elephant Sanctuary promises to be a new kind of tourist attraction for Phuket. Not only will it house rescued elephants from the tourist and logging industries, it will also be a much needed point of education for tourists and the local community.
Thailand has long used elephants for construction, logging and even warfare. In more recent years the national symbol is more likely to be found working in jungle trekking camps rather than charging into battle. Eventually the elephants become too old or disabled to work and need somewhere to go. You can’t just simply turn a 3 ton animal loose – somebody will notice. Montri Todtane (a former Phuket elephant camp owner) came across this issue with some of his elephants and wanted to do something to help. With no satisfactory options in Southern Thailand the idea of an elephant sanctuary in Phuket was born.
A Huge Area For The Elephants To Roam
At the moment the sanctuary has 28 acres of land kindly donated by the aforementioned Montri Todtane. The land was formerly a rubber plantation on the edge of Khao Phra Thaew non-hunting reserve. The sanctuary will allow its precious pachyderms to enjoy a life free of chains. Simply letting Elephants be elephants, which mainly involves eating, playing in mud and having a good scratch – sounds great! Just watching elephants is much more fun than climbing on their backs and trudging through the ‘jungle’ for 20 minutes.
Our new project, Elephant Nature Park Phuket will embrace a different type of elephant tourism. We will be removing the saddle and allowing our elephants to walk and forage naturally in the forest, to socialise with each other, to bathe and play in the lagoon, and to roam freeENP Phuket
On the 20th August 2016 Phuket Elephant Sanctuary welcomed its first residents. Kannika (Night blooming Jasmine) and Madee (New Beginnings) arrived from the same elephant safari camp. Both have settled down and are enjoying their new lives. More elephants are due to arrive soon as the Save Elephant Foundation’s ‘Saddle Off’ programme gains momentum in southern Thailand.
Fantastic Canopy Walkway Added
Set 6m off the ground, the 600m canopy walkway snakes around the elephants territory. It’s a fantastic feature that allows visitors a unique view of the elephants day to day lives. The ground level viewing platform is here as are the guided walks but the canopy walkway is truly unique.
The Dedicated People Behind The Programme
Mr Montri Todtane CEO – Phuket native and former elephant trekking tour owner who wanted somewhere for retired elephants to live their remaining days in peace.
Lek Chailert – founder of Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai and Save Elephant Foundation. Has long been championing the plight of Thailand’s national symbol and other wildlife. With wild populations in decline and the treatment of elephants in the tourist and logging industries questionable at best Lek decided to try and change attitudes and practices. Internationally recognised for her efforts, Lek has been the subject of several documentaries and received several accolades. Including Time Magazine’s Heroes of Asia for her work in conservation in 2005 and the Ford Foundation’s “Hero of the Planet” in 2001.
Louise Rogerson – founder of Elephant Asia Rescue and Survival foundation (EARS). An organisation launched to raise awareness of the plight of asian elephants and support ethical tourism practices.
A lot of hard work has gone into making this sanctuary possible. By visiting you will be contributing to a worthy cause, getting a great day out and walking away with that feel good factor. Their tours are already proving very popular so make sure you contact them before arrival to make sure they can fit you in!
For opening dates and times you can follow their Facebook page Phuket Elephant Sanctuary – FB or check out the website www.phuketelephantsanctuary.org (full website coming very soon)
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