Tuesday 3 March 2015

to visit the Elephant hospital

On day 6 of our tour we visited the Friends of Asian Elephants hospital about an hour south of Chiang Mai.

Within minutes of me posting this picture on my instagram I was receiving likes and it is now one of my most 'liked' pics from my tour so far.

I also posted the picture on Google+ in a Nature Community. I had posted an explanation at the top of the picture that this little guys Mum had been injured and died from stepping on a land mine and that he was now being cared for at the hospital as he would not have survived otherwise.

Again the photo seemed popular and has had over 60 likes and 3 shares, but not long after posting it there I got this comment

Now given the number of full stops, exclamation marks and some of the words being obvious I knew this was not a "hey, your photo is wonderful" type of comment. I clicked on the translation button out of curiosity 

I tried to respond and agree with the comment and explain the situation but the person who wrote the comment wasn't interested. 

The elephant hospital was founded in 1993 by Soraida Salwala, who has a strong love and desire to help the elephants of Thailand. Elephants in Thailand are a rapidly dying breed, with them estimating there are only around 2000 elephants left in the wild. They are faced with issues such as being used illegally in elephant camps, spending their days working up near the Thai-Burma Border and being used to perform in circus type acts and for tourists to ride. It cannot really be known how these elephants are being treated to be able to be tamed and safe to ride.

Soriala's dream and vision is to help as many elephants as possible and to educate people on the proper treatment of these animals. Any elephant is welcomed at the hospital and they receive free vet care whilst they are patients.

When we first arrived we were seating in a viewing area and shown a short video, that I am pretty sure was filmed for Australian TV for one of those shows like Getaway or some show like that.

We then wandered around and were told about each of the 'patients' at the hospital. Their 'most famous' patient being Motala, who had part of her leg blown off when she was working in an elephant camp and stepped on a land  mine. Over time she has been fitted with a prosthetic leg and is able to move around the hospital relatively normally for short periods of time. She is now a permanent resident of the hospital.

There are 5 permanent residents at the hospital now, some that have been dropped off by farmers from elephant camps after they have been injured and a couple of little young ones who have been abandoned by their mothers or their mothers have died and they would have most certainly met the same fate had they been left.

The elephant hospital is run soley off donations and fundraising efforts and receives no support from the Thai government.

The hospital has a large amount of land and backs on to some jungle and scrub land and the elephants have certain times of the day when they are free to roam the grounds and interact with each other.

In a perfect world there would be no illegal logging using elephants, no animals being held in captivity for what ever reason whatsoever, but we do not live in a perfect world. So while people may not like the idea of these elephants being chained in their enclosures for many hours a day, I would hate to think what would happen to them if there wasn't a place like this in Thailand for them to go and receive treatment and be looked after by people who truly care about them.

After this visit we went to a local cafe nearby for lunch where our tour guide Raht turned waitress as the level of English by the local waitresses was pretty low.

Tour Guide turned waitress!

The food at this stop was delicious and some of the cheapest on our trip. My meal and bottle of water cost me 75 Baht, which is just less than $3AUD! Crazy!!

From there we traveled for about three and a half hours on the bus to arrive at our amazing resort in Sukhothai just in time for a quick swim before dinner.

Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT!!

**Side note: I am feeling so far behind in blogging about this trip as it seems like so long ago already! I am currently in Cambodia and about to start my volunteer placement! I am going to try hard to catch up as soon as possible!**

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