CHIANG MAI, 27 March 2020: Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai – and many other camps in Thailand – have closed their doors due to the current Covid-19 crisis.
It results in hardship for the elephants and could seriously hurt Thailand’s tourism industry in the future if no support is forthcoming soon.
That’s the view of Saengduean “Lek” Chailert, owner of Elephant Nature Park and founder of Save Elephant Foundation, who believes many of the closures will be permanent.
“I have been to visit many of the camps, and the situation is very serious”, she explains.
“The elephants have been chained up since the tourists stopped coming. They are very stressed and upset. Some have started to attack each other from being chained up all day, and several have bite wounds as they are fighting over food. Pregnant elephants are also stressed and not doing well at all.”
What does that mean for the future?
“If there is no support forthcoming to keep them safe, the elephants will either starve to death or maybe put back on the streets to beg. Alternatively, some may be sold to zoos, and some may be returned to the logging business (which officially banned the use of elephants in 1989 due to its cruel nature). It’s a very bleak outlook unless some financial help is received immediately,” says Lek.
At Elephant Nature Park, which houses more than 3000 animals, many disabled or emotionally unstable, a frantic fund-raising effort is underway for food and medical needs. Some of the elephants need intensive, regular veterinary care.
On her Facebook post-Thursday, Lek thanks donors, saying: “I have been in touch with more than 30 elephant camp owners to help them find a way out. My ability to help these animals is an extension of your generosity, I cannot do it without your help.
There is no amount too big or too small to impact the lives of these animals. 100% of each donation is tax-deductible and goes directly to Elephant Nature Park. I will share these donations with elephants in other camps as appropriate.”
How to donate
TRUNKS UP (https://jointrunksup.org) is a certified supporting organization which is currently MATCHING all donations, dollar for dollar, up to US$45,000. Donations can be made via the site.
Where the money will go:
USD30 will feed an elephant for a day;
USD20 will feed a dog or cat for one week;
USD10 will feed a pig, cow or buffalo for one week;
USD8 will feed a monkey for one week;
USD5 will feed a rabbit for one week.