Tourists often have no idea what elephants have to go through in order for them to experience them on treks, rides, see them painting, begging on beaches or any other number of things that elephants naturally would not be doing. In order for elephants to perform including being ridden they have to be ‘broken’. Elephants are wild animals. I believe that if people really understood what they were contributing to when they participated in or supported any of these activities that they would not do it.
For elephants to be ridden or used in tourism in any way they go through a process called “phajaan” meaning ‘breaking an elephant’s spirit.” Elephants after all are wild animals. The process of phajaan is when a baby elephant is taken from its family and its mother and aunties are killed. They are put in crates, starved and beaten, its legs bound closely together so it can’t move, until its spirit is broken and the elephant can be forced into a life of labour. You can find more about this here,
We know a lot about elephants. Everybody understands that they are endangered both in Asia and in Africa and more than that that they are the equivalent of humans in emotional and social sophistication. Elephants, of course, lack the malice and cruelty of people. Increasingly people are becoming aware that elephants need to be supported as much as possible in the wild or in sanctuaries that allow them to live as close to a natural existence as possible.
The tourist trade is getting better, but still has a long way to go to direct people to sanctuaries….Many operations pose as ‘sanctuaries’ but in fact are not. This list was compiled by a friend of mine Leanne Fogarty who works who works tirelessly on behalf of Asian elephant captured in the tourist trade. Please share this list with your friends and family.
List of Elephant Sanctuaries by Country
Elephant Sanctuary Cambodia – http://www.saveelephant.org/elephant-sanctuary-cambodia/
Angkor Wat, Siem Reap
Elephant Sanctuary Cambodia is located inside the Cambodia Wildlife Sanctuary.
Cambodia Wildlife Sanctuary – http://www.cambodiawildlifesanctuary.com
Provinces of Preah Vihear, Siem Reap and Odor Mean Chey
Cambodia Wildlife Sanctuary is located inside Kulen-Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary.
Elephant Valley Project – http://www.elephantvalleyproject.org
Sen Monorom, Mondulkiri
Phnom Tamao Wildlife Zoological Park & Rescue Centre – http://www.phnomtamaozoo.com
Phnom Penh, Takeo
This is a zoo but the Elephant Rescue inside it has a very good reputation.
Wildlife SOS – http://www.wildlifesos.org
Agra, Uttar Pradesh
There is a Bear Sanctuary and Elephant Conservation & Care Center and they are situated side by side.
Chandaka Elephant Sanctuary – http://www.orissatourism.org/wildlife-in-orissa/chandaka-elephant-reserve.html
Bhubaneswar, Odisha (formerly known as Orissa)
This sanctuary is actually a wildlife reserve.
Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation Centre – http://www.wrrcbangalore.org
Elephant Conservation Centre – http://www.elephantconservationcenter.com
Sayaboury City, Sayaboury
Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp – http://www.ghvelephant.com
They do allow “short” rides on the elephant, but best camp we know of in Myanmar.
National Trust for Nature Conservation’s Biodiversity Conservation Centre – http://www.ntnc.org.np
Elephant Transit Home – https://www.facebook.com/ElephantTransitHomeSriLanka
Udawalawe National Park, Ratnapura, Sabaragamuwa” to front of name – my mistake.)
Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society – http://www.slwcs.org
Elephant Freedom Project – http://www.elephantfreedomproject.com
Elephant Nature Park – http://www.saveelephant.org/elephant-nature-park/
Mae Taeng, Chiang Mai
The Surin Project – http://www.surinproject.org
Tha Tum, Surin
Erawan Elephant Retirement Park – http://www.saveelephant.org/erawan-elephant-retirement-park/
Kanchanaburi City, Kanchanaburi
Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand’s Wildlife Rescue Center – http://www.wfft.org
Tha Mai Ruak, Petchaburi
Burm & Emily’s Elephant Sanctuary – http://www.bees-elesanctuary.org
Mae Chaem, Chiang Mai
Friends of the Asian Elephant Hospital – http://www.elephant-soraida.com
Lampang City, Lampang
Elephant’s World – http://www.elephantsworld.org
Kanchanaburi City, Kanchanaburi
Elephant Hills – http://www.elephant-hills.com
Phanom District, Surat Thani
Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary – http://www.blesele.org
Si Satchanalai District, Sukhothai
Usually booked out 6 months in advance and they only take 6 people per night.