This is a story about Sam. Sam I am.
Here is a GoFundMe campaign worth donating too - it struck a chord with me when I found out that Elephants suffer from the same emotional and mental issues that humans do, they can suffer from depression, anxiety and PTSD.
Please keep reading.........
Hey! We are Maria and Chenoa from Costa Rica and Australia ( I bet you've never seen that mix before).
We're travelling around Thailand, as broke backpackers. Even though we have little, we love to give lots. Lots of love, lots of friendly cuddles and lots of laughs. While we are living the 'life', enjoying ourselves and exploring Thailand, we still can not turn our back to ones in need; people or animals. So, we need your help...
Thailand has a long history of Elephant abuse and we've been unfortunate enough, to see some of it ourselves. We can't just sit by and witness this, without trying to help the Elephant, by any means possible...
So here's some facts: the Asian Elephant is officially an endangered species. There are estimates of under 30,000 left in the ENTIRE world! In Thailand there are less than 2,000 Elephants, over 50% of these are 'domesticated' and abused. The process to domesticate a wild Elephant goes as such; they are tortured as babies to completely break their spirit, this involves being taken from their mother, starved, being shackled, beaten into submission and confining them in a hole in the ground. This process is called Phajaan or 'the crush'.
Elephants suffer from the same emotional and mental issues that humans do; in these situations, they can suffer from depression, anxiety and PTSD.
So, now that we've given those horrible facts and you may be alarmed by these and you may feel like there is nothing you can do to help, we're here to let you know that you actually can... Although, the Thai Government is slowly making changes to the abuse that Elephants have and continue to suffer, that change is a slow moving beast; there are other ways to help now, immediately!
Whilst we were exploring Koh Lanta (A tiny island in South Thailand) on our zippy little scooters, we were captivated by an Elephant and her baby, being kept in a pen on the side of the road. Ple, the 20 yr old big mummma and Sam, her 1 yr old bubba boy.
On a day that was so scorching hot that we were toasty red from the sun, these two beautiful Elephants, Sam and Ple, stood in that direct sun, no shelter, a small amount of water and chained to the ground in a 6x6mtr enclosure.
While we were there, we noticed many other tourists would show up, see the Elephants chained and see the conditions of their living environment, shake their heads and leave.
We were horrified also and immediately got on the defensive towards the owner. We contacted all the Elephant sanctuaries we could think of and that google told us, were legitimate, including World Animal Protection Australia and the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary. They have both been amazing in helping us understand the situation here in Thailand and offer contacts in the rescue of these majestic creatures.
We realised that we couldn't save this animal as it costs approximately $100,000US to buy one Elephant and relocate them to a sanctuary, where they can actually be an Elephant and not an abused 'pet'.
We realised that being angry and upset at the abuse that Elephants suffer at the hands of humans, will not change Ple or Sam's plight.
We realised that if we wanted to help Ple and Sam's situation, we needed to change our tactics. We needed to know their story. The story of Sam. Sam I am.
We went back to speak with the owner, with a whole different attitude. In some cases, including this one (as we found out), an Elephant is their only source of income and try as they might, the owners may not have the funds or resources to care properly for the animal(s).
Even though we don't approve of this, it is a fact and we realised that what we can do now, to help Ple and Sam, is to help the owner care for them. This is where you come in...
The story of the owner (you may be hating him right now after what we've told you, we did at first too), but his story is unique in this situation. You see, Ple use to be used for trekking. Since she was 3 yrs old, imagine that, a tiny baby Elephant carrying us fat arse westerners on her back through the jungle. Why?! Why do we do that to them? For the instagram likes?! (We are perplexed by this behaviour). Anyway, we digress...
She was used in trekking, with a company on this same Island! This owner, we'll call him Bob. Bob the Elephant saver. He has been with her since she was a baby. Yes, he use to work for the trekking company. He took her from that company and they now reside with him. He was even with her when she delivered her bubba, Sam. He still treks with her, because she is his only source of income for his family. He doesn't allow anyone to ride her, though. He regularly hoses them down through the heat of the day and has fresh coconuts, pineapples, bananas and banana leaves for them. He himself and his family live in a very run down shack, with very little, themselves. The Elephants are both very affectionate towards him, with bubba Sam still being bottle feed.
Bob the Elephant saver was embarrassed when questioned about the Elephant's living conditions and apologetic. Once we got speaking more with him, and learning of his story and that of Ple and Sam's, it was clear that he was doing as much as he could, with the little funds and resources he has.
So, we came up with a plan... one day, we may be able to raise enough money to rescue both Ple and Sam. One day, the Thai Government may changed how Elephants are treated and make it illegal for people to abuse them. One day, tourists may actually stop riding Elephants and taking ridiculous photos of themselves and unknowingly (or knowingly) supporting the continued abuse of Elephants in Asia. Until that time though, Ple and Sam continue to stand in the heat, with little water, shackled in a 6x6mtr pen. We can help them now, by helping Bob the Elephant saver, care for them.
We don't intend on giving Bob the money. We have found expat and local builders that will help us build Ple and Sam a shelter structure, a better watering system and hopefully, if we have enough money, a larger pen.
Because we had to do our gofundme page in AU dollars, here's a quick run down on the conversions.
$2,000AU converts to $895,520CRC (Costa Rican Colón)
$2,000AU converts to $1,572US (American dollars)
$2,000 to $52,106THB (Thai Baht)
So, based on those conversions, and the money that we are praying you can help us with, we can help these Elephants have a better quality of life.. because everybody needs love ❤
To make a donation head to: