Our Trip to Thailand- The Elephant Nature Park
The Elephant Nature Park is an elephant rescue and rehabilitation center in Northern Thailand where you can volunteer and visit to help. It is located in Chiang Mai province, about 1.5 hours away from the city of Chiang Mai. They provide a sanctuary for approx. 84 distressed elephants from all over Thailand that they have rescued.
The founder of this organization is a woman named Sangdeaun Lek Chailer, most people know her as Lek. Lek was born 1961 in a small hill tribe village of Baan Lao, two hours north of Chiang Mai Thailand. Knowing that her country’s nation symbol, the elephant was going extinct she began advocating for the rights and welfare of the Asian elephants in Thailand. Asian elephants are treated badly in many different ways, but with her hard work she has made progress. She is internationally recognized and have several documentaries produced by National Geographic, Discovery, Animal Planet and the BBC, Lek has also won many honorary awards.
Her mission continues to impact and inspire others as her voice is heard throughout the world. Her vision and story shows that there is a better way. It has truly impacted the minds of those who are opening to listening to it. Lek’s mission to save the Asian elephants continues to expand. She has formed the Save Elephant Foundation and a dedicated team works tirelessly by her side to protect the Asian elephant.
They protect and rescue not only elephants but their staff who works there, cats, dogs, buffalos, cows, horses, monkeys and many other rescued species. Plus so much more. Here is their mission state meant below.
Elephant Nature Park Mission Statement
Sanctuary for endangered species: We provide homes for these animals as well as contributing to their welfare and development.
Rain Forest Restoration: One of the most exciting developments at the park is our programme of tree planting the surrounding area. The ecological balance of plants and animals will be encouraged by the re-introduction of the rain forest. Some 25 acres of the mountainside will be planted every year for the first 5 years.
Cultural Preservation: To maintain, as much as possible, the cultural integrity of the local community. By creating employment and purchasing agricultural products locally we are assisting the villagers in sustaining their distinct culture. Park managers are recruited locally to oversee the park’s progress.
Visitors Education : To educate visitors, individuals, study groups, schools and interested parties. Emphasis on the plight of the endangered local species will be presented in an entertaining and constructive manner. Future phases will include audio / visual equipment and other modern educational aids. It is anticipated that small conferences and workshops will be organized at the park.
Act independently : of pressure groups and political movements that we consider contrary to the well being of the park and the creatures in its care.
This place for us was paradise. They offer different types of programs to meet anyone needs. We choose the one week volunteering program at the elephant nature park. They provided lodging on site and three vegan meals a day. We worked with volunteers leads and about 50 other volunteers who where there for the week. We worked about 4-6 hours a day depending on our chores and the rest of the time was free time. Our jobs included working in the elephant kitchen getting the bananas, watermelon, and pumpkins ready. When we were finished preparing their food we got to feed them some bananas. We cleaned up the park and the elephant enclosures they sleep in at night. We set up enrichment for the elephants which consists of hiding treats in their enclosure to find. We cleaned out the elephant water sinks and food areas. The last job there was a elephant nature walk where you got to stroll around the park to see the elephants.
There was special activities almost every night that you could attend. They spent time educating us on the dark side of the elephant lives and we got to meet all the different elephants at the park and learn their stories. Each elephant story is unique and filled with its own horrors. We will be writing a separate blog on the life of a working asian elephant.
As far as planning our trip we book the week long stay on their website https://www.elephantnaturepark.org/enp/visit-volunteer. They send you all the information you need to know. They pick you up for your hotel or you can meet them at their home office. We flew into Chiang Mia and we went to the park. There are a few house keeping things to do before you attend like get travelers insurance, booking your hotel, AirBnb, or hostel, and covering US dollars to BOT at your local bank before you leave about a week in advance at the latest.