It was about two years ago now that I discovered the awful truth about elephant tourism and ever since, I’ve been telling every man, woman and lamppost that I met all about it! I would love to volunteer, at some point, with some rescued elephants in one of the very few genuine sanctuaries out there, but so far have not had the chance; however, many of my friends have. One of these pals is the lovely Sadie from Eclectic Trekker, and we recently got together to chat about her experiences.
Sadie has done a great deal of volunteering during her travels, and she started her website to highlight the opportunities that are out there for people who want to make a difference. She has spent a lot of time volunteering with Elephant Nature Park here in Chiang Mai and on their project in Surin Province, and so the welfare of elephants is very close to her heart.
It was really great to sit down and hear the passion of a person who has worked up close and personal with these beautiful animals. If you aren’t familiar with why elephant riding and elephant tourism in general is so bad, have a watch of the video and find out more.
If you care about elephants but you weren’t aware of the torture they go through to provide tourists with entertainment, there’s a lot you can do; first and foremost you can vow never to take part in elephant rides or shows and never to buy any elephant paintings. Secondly, you can financially support organisations like Elephant Nature Park to continue doing their great work. Thirdly, you can volunteer your time and energy if you are in Southeast Asia, because volunteer programs are a big source of monetary and physical help.
Sadie and I went on to chat about some of her other volunteering adventures, including regrowing coral and caring for animals rescued from the illegal wildlife trade. Those videos will be coming up soon, so keep an eye out!
Do you have any thoughts on the video above? Any feelings or opinions on elephant tourism? Do you have any personal experience with volunteering abroad? Let’s discuss!