Meet Boonme and Buabaan. These two elephants have spent their entire lives working in the brutal logging industry and a few years in the nearly as torturous trekking industry. Today these elephants are living freely in one of the top elephant conservation parks in the entire world. This is thanks to the works of Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai and we got to witness the rescue first hand. This was their first mud bath immediately after arriving at their new home in Chiang Mai. Elephant Nature Park has given these elephants the thing they never had. Freedom.
The sad reality is, most elephants do not live like the ones at ENP. This is how almost all elephants live in Southeast Asia. Bound by a short strand of chain and isolated from friends and family. They spend their days crying in agony, and rocking back and forth until they are taken off the chain to be riden or used in a show. It’s truly a despicable sight. But we can end this!
As a travel vlogger, I wanted to create a meaningful project and so just over a couple months ago I booked a 2 tickets to Thailand for my friend and I so that we could film a short documentary, “Black Tusk”, to educate travelers the reality that goes on behind most elephant tourism businesses. Most people don’t realize that elephants are tortured behind the scenes to make them “souless” and compliant so that they are useable in the tourism industry.
Our goal was to go and film the happy elephants living at the sanctuary and to also show the mentally broken ones living in your typical elephant trekking park. While filming “Black Tusk” at ENP, we we’re invited on the adventure of a lifetime. ENP had arranged to purchase two abused elephants near the Cambodian border so we got into a truck and drove overnight to Surin. Once we arrived, we met the two elephants who we’re being closely monitored by two aggressive mahouts. It was quickly made apparent that they we’re not in good hands. Like some sort of a crazy cartel deal you would see in the movies, money exchanged hands and the two elephants we’re loaded into a couple custom fitted trucks which we used to get them back to the sanctuary. With the elephants in the truck, our drive time doubled taking us about 25 hours to get from Surin back to the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai.
This was the moment we loaded the two elephants into the trucks and began our return to the sanctuary. A moment I’ll never forget. We drove through unbelievable humidity and the occasional storm. Once we arrived, the elephants slowly backed off the trucks unsure of what to expect. Within only 30 minutes of arriving, they were swimming across the river and playing in the mud like a couple of children. It was a magical moment to say the least. The oldest, Boonme, has spent her entire 80 years in the hands of abusive owners and she and her 50 year old friend, Buabaan are now free elephants. They have even had a solo elephant by the name of BaiCha join their group and the trio are now inseparable at the park. I filmed and recorded the whole experience as a vlog series and the final documentary, “Black Tusk”, will be released in about a month on YouTube. Hope you guys enjoyed my story time!
Me and the founder of ENP (Lek)
Lek is the one who started Elephant Nature Park and she is one of the most inspirational people out there. Such an incredible opportunity to have met her.
If you want to watch the video of them being rescued:
and the full playlist is here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLztt-vtzUoNy5FirZpw4lLa4Ev5Z4XeVa Stay tuned for the documentary, Black Tusk Much love! Christian
Written by Christian