Khao Lak Elephant care programs

There are many protected elephants in Khao Lak! You are coming here and want to have an unforgettable experience with these giants – you are not alone! Everyone agrees that elephants are amazing and intelligent creatures. Let us care for our giants.

Elephants used to be invaluable as working animals, doing heavy labor and in wars, they were a symbol of power. Nowadays, they are replaced by machines, hunted by poachers, their ivory is smuggled, and these Asian giants are endangered.

The Forest Protection Act in Thailand from 1989 left thousands of elephants and mahouts (caretakers) unemployed. Since then, owners try to make money from tourists with these giants.

An elephant consumes about 200 kilos of food a day and he must be moved, fed, and entertained. Many sanctuaries and mahouts do that carefully and with ethical best practices, but there are still unethical places in Thailand.

We have to remember, even at the best sanctuaries, elephants are still wild animals and they should be respected and taken care of. Some would say, they should be left alone in the wild. But left without care, they wouldn’t survive in this world and be hunted down by poachers, trafficked for their selfish gains, and elephants wouldn’t know how to survive. Releasing thousands of elephants in the forests will lead to numerous dangerous consequences for both elephants and humans.

Many places stopped offering elephant riding, but there are several places where you can meet and feed these giants within appropriate limits. Special “Care Programs” are designed for tourists to have a wonderful meet-and-greet with elephants without breaking ethical rules or harming them.

Photo by Katie Hollamby

Can you see elephants in Khao Lak?

Yes! There are several places in and around Khao Lak to meet and feed them. Most of these places also offer a bathing experience with these giants, though this activity isn’t banned, it is not considered ethical. If you want a meet and greet, it’s best to let the tour operator know what your intentions are – they are more than happy to adjust a tour to your liking.

Here are 3 popular places:

Is elephant tourism bad?

Elephant-based tourism can be a powerful tool to protect them from extinction. It may seem like tourism companies are simply putting a price tag on an elephant for their own gains, but creating economically viable wildlife is one of the most effective ways to stop poaching, trafficking, and ensure the future survival of these vulnerable creatures.

Better yet, elephant-based tourism puts the power in the hands of consumers to support responsible companies that respect and protect them and enrich local communities.

In a perfect world, elephants would be out in the wild, taking care of themselves, without troubling and greedy humans. Unfortunately, we don’t live in such a world, and if we would set free all these elephants, it would be dangerous for everyone, including the survival of these elephants.

Ethical sanctuaries with respectful mahouts are necessary for the protection of elephants, and tourism provides them with economical support to survive.

How many elephants camps are there?

Thailand is home to about 250 elephant camps with more than 3,000 semi-domesticated elephants. Most of these camps offer tourists opportunities to bathe, feed, and learn more about elephants. We hope that more and more camps will not allow elephant riding, and come up with different and ethical ways for elephants to exercise.

Is it possible to train elephants without hurting them?

Some organizations, including World Animal Protection and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, claim that an elephant cannot be trained for direct contact without being tortured. Many who work with the elephants say that elephants have to be trained for their survival in this modern world and can be trained without hurting the elephants. 

Fun Elephant Facts

What do elephants eat?

Elephants are herbivorous. They consume grasses, small plants, bushes, fruit, twigs, tree bark, and roots. Elephants also eat lianas, wild palms, wild bananas, and various shrubs. Elephants love sugarcanes and it is also a significant part of their diet plan. Although, experts say that camps should moderate tourists feeding bananas and sugar cane, as these are high in sugars and could harm their health.

How long do Asian elephants live?

The average lifespan of Asian elephants is between 50 to 70 years, depending on their environment, diet, and exercise.

Thai National Elephant Day

In 1998, the Thai government declared March 13 as Thai National Elephant Day.

How tall and heavy are Asian elephants?

Size: 2-3 meters at shoulders.
Weight: 2.25 – 5.5 tons.

What does the word elephant mean?

Elephant in Latin means ‘huge arch’. The word ‘chang’ means elephant in Thai.

What does an elephant see in a mirror?

As far as we know, along with dolphins and great apes, Asian elephants are the only animals to recognize themselves in a mirror.

Elephants are highly social animals

Asian elephants have strong family relations. They engage in greeting ceremonies, complex communication, teaching, and communal care.

Read more about the life of elephants in Thailand

If you are looking for more in-depth information regarding the reality of elephants living in Thailand, there is a great article to read on LIVEKINDLY.

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