“HOW DO YOU RESCUE YOUR ELEPHANTS?”
If you’re like many who have visited us, you’ve probably wondered, at one point or another, how the rescue process work. If you think the rescue process consists of breaking into places and stealing elephants out, you couldn’t be more wrong. Hold up Indiana Jones! The rescue process, as hard as it is to believe, is done in an extremely civil and systematic way.
Now, to understand the rescue process, you’ll have to understand how a large portion of elephants are being taken away from their owners. The domestication of elephants has been around for 400 years in Thailand. 30 years ago, the government made it illegal to use elephants for logging. This was fantastic news for elephant conservators. But this also meant that roughly 3000 elephants and their mahouts went out of a job. The number of mahouts walking down the streets of Bangkok, begging people to take pictures with their elephants, soon became an epidemic. With the rise of ‘jobless’ elephants, Thailand saw a rise in entertainment and trekking/riding places. Up in the north, for example, we see elephants roaming into banana plantations, causing significant damage When this happens, owners of elephants get slapped with a fine that they most of the time cannot afford to pay for. When this happens, the owners often time end up contracting their elephants out to companies such as entertainment, riding or logging companies. Feeding an elephant costs a lot of money and when left to decide between the welfare of the elephant or your family, the elephants unfortunately usually fall on the lower end of that priority.
Elephant Jungle Sanctuary is currently runs 3 different programs for our elephants.
- EJS Adoption
- EJS Foster Care
- EJS Matriarch Project
This program represents what most visitors assume we do. While a large majority of our rescues are part of the adoption program, not all of them are.
In this program, we have owners of elephants contacting us, we look through existing contracts at the places where the elephants are being ’employed’ at and buy them out of the places of employment, on two conditions,
- maturing contract
- matured contract
Our rescue team, consisting of vets and experienced managers go in to assess what our rescue would need (physically and emotionally) after being in our care. The vet then plans out an individualized rehabilitation program and all the action steps needed to carry out rehab successfully.
Once the elephant is brought to our facility, she/he starts her rehabilitation program in isolation. Once she shows no signs of anxiety, she will slowly be introduced to the rest of the tribe (or her forever family).
EJS FOSTER Care
Elephant Jungle Sanctuary provides foster services to some elephants because not all owners of elephants want to part with their elephants. With our foster care service, owners go through a re-education programs before being employed under our care.
Sometimes we meet resistance with our re-education program and we have mahouts diverting back into old methods of working with the elephants. When this happens, managers in-charge of the camp will remind and once again re-educate them. While this task is often times infuriating, we believe that patience is key in steering culture and tradition into a positive direction. It’s a constant struggle but we believe that it is well worth it.
EJS MATRIARCH PROJECT
In the last few years, EJS has seen an increasing number of geriatric elephants being placed under our care. Most of the time, our geriatric rescues come to us with a list of medical conditions, such as, cataracts, gout, ulcers and colic. Our geriatric rescues are given 24 hour care and supervision of a veterinarian with health checks and daily care plans. We also carefully monitor the diet for our older elephants and provide supplements for them to aid digestion.
We currently have 12 elephants under our Matriarch Project.
- Pikul (1932-2018)
- Fino (1945)
- Dok Ngoen (1948)
- Nan Fa (1950)
- Kiaw Ta (1952)
- San-Dee (1960)
- Lam-Yai (1962)
- Jum Pi (1948)
- Wassana (1948)
- Mae Ja (1950)
- Boon Hai (1950)
- Mae Boon Me (1965)
- Mae Boon Sri (1960)