August 20, 2023
CM Content Team
Every year, August 12 is commemorated as World Elephant Day, a global event created to raise awareness about the urgent plight of Asian and African elephants. The persistent threat of poaching, habitat loss, and human-elephant conflict has put these majestic creatures in danger.
To highlight the importance of International Elephant Day, we'll take a journey around the world, visiting elephant sanctuaries that devote their resources to protecting, rehabilitating, and caring for these gentle giants. But first, let’s understand how this day came into being.
On August 12, 2012, the first-ever World Elephant Day was initiated, drawing global attention to the urgent and precarious situation faced by Asian and African elephants. Elephants, cherished, venerated, and respected by various cultures and individuals across the globe, are at a critical juncture. We teeter on the edge of witnessing the tragic end of these majestic beings.
Elephants are remarkable creatures that showcase emotions, self-awareness, and strong social bonds, reflecting the best qualities in humans. However, the way we often handle these majestic beings exposes some of the worst aspects of human nature. We exploit them for profit, subject them to harsh conditions for amusement, and wipe out their habitats. This underscores our responsibility to improve our treatment of elephants and all other species.
Fortunately, there are numerous sanctuaries and national parks dotted across the world, devotedly committed to the preservation and protection of elephants.
Our first stop is Asia, specifically in Northern Thailand, at the Elephant Nature Park. This sanctuary is one of the most renowned, home to over 35 rescued elephants, ranging from elderly to infants, many of whom were victims of the cruel tourist trade or logging industry. These elephants roam free, unburdened by the demands of performing tricks or giving rides. Visitors and volunteers experience the elephants' life in a natural and respectful way, offering bathing and feeding sessions under the guidance of the park's staff.
Minneriya National Park is in North Central Province of Sri Lanka. It is a popular eco-tourism destination known for its large population of Sri Lankan elephants.
The park is most famous for the Minneriya Elephant Gathering, which usually happens between July and October each year. During this period, over 200 elephants gather on the shores of the Minneriya Reservoir, an event considered one of the world's greatest wildlife spectacles.
Jeep safaris are the most common way to explore Minneriya National Park. These usually occur in the morning or evening when the animals are most active.
Dubare Elephant Camp is located on the banks of the river Kaveri in the district of Kodagu in Karnataka. This camp offers a unique experience to guests by allowing them to get intimately close to elephants and understand their behavior, ecology, and biology. Visitors can engage in various activities involving elephants, like feeding and grooming them. Guests can also participate in naturalist-led treks that provide a fascinating insight into the ecology of the area.
The Phuket Elephant Sanctuary is a pioneer in advocating for the ethical treatment of retired or rescued elephants. This sanctuary allows its elephants to freely roam and bathe, with visitor interactions limited to feeding times.
Be aware that there are establishments distributing misleading brochures that pretend to be affiliated with them. To avoid confusion, ensure you are headed towards the sanctuary located in Paklok. They do not have any affiliations with other elephant parks or sanctuaries on the island.
The Mekong Elephant Park is located in the Pakbeng region in Laos. Established in 2007, this sanctuary is dedicated to the conservation and protection of Asian elephants in a country where their numbers have sadly dwindled due to habitat loss, poaching, and the demand for domesticated elephants in the logging industry.
One of the largest elephant sanctuaries in the world, here, guests can participate in various programs, which usually include feeding and walking with the elephants, learning about their behavior, and understanding conservation efforts. Some programs also offer the unique opportunity to spend a day or more as a 'mahout,' or elephant caretaker.
Switching continents, we land in Africa, visiting the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Nairobi, Kenya. Named after the renowned naturalist David Sheldrick, the trust is primarily known for its Orphans' Project, the most successful orphan-elephant rescue and rehabilitation program in the world. The elephants, often victims of poaching, are meticulously cared for, forming tight-knit relationships with their keepers until they're ready to reintegrate with wild herds.
You can visit this elephant sanctuary and watch orphan elephants being fed and bathed.
Amboseli National Park, located in southern Kenya, is one of Kenya's most popular tourist parks. The park is famous for its wildlife, particularly its large herds of elephants, and for its breathtaking views of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest free-standing mountain in the world.
Amboseli is also the home of the Amboseli Elephant Research Project, the longest-running study of wild elephants in the world. The park is involved in many conservation efforts, especially to protect and preserve its elephants. This is one of the best elephant sanctuaries in the world.
Chobe National Park is Botswana's first national park, and it's also one of the largest. It's known for its exceptional wildlife viewing, especially elephants, as it hosts one of the largest surviving elephant populations in the world.
Game drives and boating along the Chobe River are popular activities, offering excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. Some operators also offer birdwatching tours and fishing expeditions.
In conclusion, the world is dotted with diverse sanctuaries that tirelessly work to protect, conserve, and rehabilitate elephants - these magnificent creatures that face various threats in the wild. From the lush landscapes of Thailand's Elephant Nature Park to the expansive plains of Kenya's Amboseli National Park, each sanctuary offers a distinctive approach to elephant conservation.
Remember, as tourists and animal lovers, it's our responsibility to support establishments that prioritize the welfare of elephants over commercial gains. Let's choose to visit places that promote ethical practices, where elephants roam freely in their natural habitats, and where our interactions respect their behaviors and needs. Through understanding and respect, we can contribute to a brighter future for elephants worldwide.
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