This article submitted by Bring the Elephant HOME project.
Bring the Elephant HOME, a Dutch organization founded by Antoinette van de Water, reached the destination of her education tour-- the Elephant Nature Park in Mae Tang on Sunday 22nd of January, 2006, when two elephants, Douk Ngern and Sri Nuan, walked their last steps towards freedom. Their new home is the Elephant Nature Park, where they can live the rest of their lives as elephants without being chained and without having to work. The elephants and the "elephant rescue team", total of 12 people, were on tour for one month in total. They made their way through the heart of Thailand (including the provinces of Surin, Ayuthaya, Lopburi and Sukhothai). The group stayed at temples and organized "elephant" workshops at local primary schools. By showing the beauty of the elephants and that of Thai culture, the team raised awareness about the importance of nature conservation and the problem of elephants roaming the harsh, public streets.
The press and public were invited to join the last part of the tour and walked together with the elephants and the team into the Elephant Nature Park. The walk started at 3 pm in Mae Taman. The arrival time at the Elephant Nature Park one hour later.
In Ayutthaya, Lopburi and Sukhothai over 600 schoolchildren attended the three hour "elephant" workshop and participated in an interactive English "elephant" quiz and art competition. In addition, sixteen students and six monk students were given a scholarship, to help them with their study in the future. During the period of stay in the three cities, many villagers passed by the camp to meet the elephants and get to know more about them. Some brought their sick cats and dogs who were helped immediately by the team's animal doctor. In total over 400 dogs and cats were treated at various different temple sites and primary schools. In this way the team wanted to show their gratitude to the places they were staying and make the environment a better place where animals and humans can live together in peace.
Extra information about Bring the Elephant HOME
Bring the Elephant HOME was founded as an educational and publicity campaign to support the elephants in Thailand. The elephant is an animal so beloved in the hearts of all people; and plays an important symbolic and cultural role in Thailand. Unfortunately, the same Asian elephant is today under threat. Due to loss of its forest habitat, the Asian elephant is now endangered in the wild. The traditional lives of domesticated elephants are limited these days because of modernization. Unless action is taken the elephant will not survive another generation. The project aims to promote real alternatives for the future of domesticated elephants whilst providing adequate support for their mahouts and families who depend on the elephants for their survival.
Antoinette van de Water said, "We want to promote sanctuaries that are both good for the elephants by building natural environments and also good for the country by encouraging positive and eco friendly tourism." Van de Water has been involved in elephant care for nearly four years. As a volunteer she has helped the award winning sanctuary ‘Elephant Nature Park' in Chiang Mai and has done research on the issue of street elephants.
For carrying out the Bring the Elephant HOME project she started to promote elephant friendly tourism and raised funds in Holland two years ago. At the elephant Round Up in Surin last November, van de Water bought two elephants who were suffering a life of roaming on the streets. Douk Ngern (6) and Sri Nuan (35) are the lucky ones, who will now start their journey back to nature. During the journey, the small caravan demonstrated the cultural richness and sheer beauty of Thailand and its elephants. The elephants will be moved by trucks and will be given lots of time to relax, bath, eat and gain strength before they arrive at their new home. At the Elephant Nature Park they can move freely, have families and live the rest of their lives as elephants! Van de Water adds, "The aim of our tour is to reawaken people's compassion and love for elephants, giving them the auspicious honor they deserve. We also hope to encourage tourists to travel north and meet the elephants in their natural habitat."
For more information about this project, footage or tour details please contact: Mr. Viritphon Chaiwong (Thai and English): 0-1289-0563. Ms. Antoinette van de Water (English): 0-1568-0571. Or check our website: www.bring-the-elephant-home.nl
Aims of Bring the Elephant HOME:
Important note: Bring the Elephant HOME is not against making money with elephants. The project believes that elephant owners have to earn money to take good care of their elephant. Therefore they promote animal friendly ways of making money with and for the elephants.
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