Elephant tour in Thailand and Nepal

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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Elephant tour in Thailand and Nepal

Environment

As one of the pioneering companies in Nepal, we have demonstrated a commitment to sustainable travel and responsible tourism for more than fifty years. In addition to supporting a wide range of local programs, we have created several conservation and wildlife projects throughout Nepal. We recognise the importance of preserving the abundant ecosystems of Nepal, and with a deep connection to the national parks and the wildlife, we strive to deliver high quality and low number tourism to these fragile areas. They are a place to learn, to cherish, to grow and above most, a wondrous place to explore.

The venues we have chosen for this trip are each unique in their approach to responsible elephant tourism.

The Nepal venue is the first in the country to stop offering elephant back safaris, and completely changing the way of managing its resident elephants. Teaming up with founder of Elephant Aid International, Carol Buckley, the company has built five spacious enclosures for the eleven resident elephants who are now living together in their natural groupings. The guests are invited to step in to the lives of the elephants and to experience the life of the mahouts and their culture and traditions. Here you will experience the elephants’ natural rhythm and you will learn mainly by observing and engaging with the mahouts´ daily work.

In Thailand we will visit two very special projects: one elephant sanctuary, and one community based project working to bring the elephants back into the jungle.

At the sanctuary, the long-term goal is to release the elephants into a protected environment where they can forage, interact, explore and live communally without fear. The constant threat of deforestation to the property abutting the sanctuary is the new reality. Only 15% of Thailand remains forestland and the sanctuary is working hard to realize their dream of a release project by expanding their acreage. It has it is their conviction that the elephants be returned to as natural a habitat as possible and live out their lives with dignity. By securing an area that is absent from human-inflicted danger, the elephants will learn to live as elephants are meant to — in a self-reliant herd.

Community

In Thailand this trip supports Mahouts Elephant Foundation. Creating Awareness and Respect for Elephants is an initiative led by Mahouts Elephant Foundation.

One focus of our work is to raise awareness to the suffering endured by captive elephants working in the tourist industry. The lives these elephants endure is far removed from how they would be living in their natural habitat. Their mahouts and carers are frequently pushed into poverty and left with very little control over their own lives or indeed the life of the elephant in their care. Our mahouts are given a fair living wage and all the support they need.

Using a combined approach of working with mahouts and creating sustainable and welfare focused projects on the ground we also use our skills and knowledge to raise much needed awareness.

In Nepal, we support hundreds of children in surrounding communities through the provision of scholarships, textbooks, uniforms and staff training. We engage meaningfully with the community to ensure education programs are sustainable.

An example of this is on the premises of the lodge in Chitwan, where we run a school as a joint project with the Swissair Staff Fund for Children in Need. It offers a free head start for children from disadvantaged families, and funding for their onward education in government schools. The school currently has fifty-five students from the surrounding villages. The programme covers health care, two meals/day, uniforms, and supplies. In return, the parents work in the school’s organic garden to grow vegetables for the children’s meals, giving them a sense of involvement and a new skill they can use at home to improve family nutrition. We encourage our guests to visit the school and if they wish, to give an English lesson or a donation of any form.

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