Beginning my gap semester with ARCC one of the parts I was most excited about was to visit an elephant sanctuary in Thailand!! I mean who wouldn't be excited to see an elephant!
But upon arrival I quickly realized that my whole perception of the sanctuary was wrong. We stayed at OurLand nature conservatory which is "the last wildlife corridor through which wild animals can pass between the lower half of Salakphra Wildlife Sanctuary and the water's edge by the Kwae Yai river."
I was thinking my week at OurLand would consist of seeing elephants everyday and interacting with them all the time, but thankfully that wasn't the case. OurLand educated us on the human elephant conflict that happens in Kanchanaburi Thailand and spoke about the negative effects that lots of tourism has on these elephants.
When you think about going to Thailand many people immediately think of how they will ride an elephant during their time there. But you should actually never get on an elephants back... and this is why.
The rise in the number of elephants that are now being bred in captivity and solely used for entertainment have skyrocketed. In order to get elephants to begin breeding in captivity they first must capture them from the wild. In order to tame or "break" these wild elephants they put them in very cruel living situations. Most are taken from their mothers as babies and forced into harsh training and suffer poor living conditions throughout their life. By giving money to these organizations they continue this cycle of cruelty to elephants.
There are many places around the world that exploit animals into the tourism industry for bad reasons, but when you travel whether it's to Thailand or anywhere else in the world make sure you understand the circumstances in which these animals are being put in because it is the only way to stop these organizations that are causing harm to these beautiful creatures.