Last Monday, was one of the most memorable days for me. It was a long time coming, and I could not sleep due to excitement.
A 6am start, yet I was bursting with energy because it was the day I was heading to The Surin Project. Located in Surin, about an hour from camp, The Surin Project works with mahouts to help rescue elephants that have been mistreated due to elephant tourism and from being in the circus. This also allows the mahouts to live more sustainably.
Upon arrival to The Surin Project, due to its location, I had to witness some elephants who are still being mistreated. With over 200 elephants on the land, The Surin Project only have 7. Trust me, the others, I just wanted to set them all free.
Elephants have always been my favourite animal, and to have to walk past an arena and see them performing for money was truly sickening. It is all about education, and it is so sad that not enough people are educated on the topic. People do not understand how bad elephants are treated when they see them used in shows or when they want a jungle ride.
The Surin Project creates a better life and rehabilitates elephants who have unfortunately had to experience a life of trauma. It is evident in their eyes and their actions how distraught they are. To witness an elephant dancing constantly due to previously being used in the circus was completely unethical.
We spent time walking with the elephants, feeding them, watching them in the lake and playing with the beautiful two month old Saiphon. Walking a long side some of the older elephants I could not believe the size of them. Looking up at this was surreal. They are the most gentle creatures I have ever had the pleasure of spending time with. (Regardless of the fact their trunks have 100,000 muscles in, so don’t wind one up!!)
Upon my second visit to The Surin Project, I knew what to expect and had my bearings of the land. We headed to the elephant cemetery where there was at least 100 graves, all with the same headpiece. We then worked with The Dung Project. A project which recycles elephant dung to create paper. I had a go at making some of my own and you just completely forget that it is elephant poo as it is cleaned and the consistency completely changes. I also purchased a few items for myself!
My time with The Surin Project was so memorable and it was so rewarding helping and being a part of the conservation of these amazing animals. In just three generations time, the Asian elephant could be extinct so it is extremely important that the word is spread!
There is so much more I could say about this as it is something I am very passionate about but I don’t want write too much of an essay!
Just please please please, next time you want to pay someone for a photo with an elephant, to see it perform, or to ride it for that ‘perfect photo’, think again. No matter what, these animals are severely mistreated for money!. So please STOP RIDING ELEPHANTS. No matter where it is in the world. If you want to experience these animals up close, then volunteering in a conservation project, such as the one I visited is the best way to go about this.