Friday, September 14, 2012

Trekking With The Gentle Giants : Valuable Lessons Learned



Who wouldn't love riding on top of the so called gentle giants while meandering along the untamed hinterland? While atop sitting on its back, a breathe of immaculate romance seemed to fill the air and an atmosphere of gleeful ecstasy were ostensibly felt as the colossal mammal gracefully stride its way across the wilderness' labyrinth and playfully lapping the cerulean waters of the flowing streams. What a wonderful experience isn't it? 



The said adventure was even more memorable when the cap of one of our friends ahead of us was recklessly hurled down to the ground but it was just simply amazing how quick the elephant responded to the situation without being asked to do so - poised and collected she politely picked the fallen headgear through her elongated powerful trunk and cheerfully gave it to the owner. Such a beautiful scene indeed! 



While we were enjoying the elephant ride, a realization suddenly popped out in my mind. Although elephant trekking is an accepted practice in Thailand I was a bit concerned with the health status as well as the general well-being of these gentle giants. I could just imagine how exhausted they were while carrying massive weights all day which could make their spines more vulnerable to long-term damage. The carriage known as the hathi howdah positioned on their backs where the tourists could comfortably sit well would somehow inflict pain especially when it directly rubbed against their skin putting the elephants at high risks for some serious physical injuries. Added to that were the bull hooks used to beat them (right on their sensitive spots) when they're not following what had been painstakingly instructed. I also had doubts whether these enslaved giants were sufficiently fed as they kept on bending their trunks begging for more food. There were even times when they would stop in between our trek just to sneak out and grab some wild weeds in the woods to eat. Pity and guilt engulfed me as I gazed upon this bone-tired behemothic creature. My own selfish enjoyment was their added torment and agony. Ouch!


Well I firmly believe that there could still be plenty of enjoyable things to do apart from riding the elephants or watching them execute some gymnastic performances just for the sake of plain "entertainment". Should you be interested to meet them in person, there are elephant sanctuaries in the country devoted to the preservation as well as the protection of these animals from further harm and abuse. The Boon Lott's Elephant Sanctuary situated in Northern Thailand allows you to personally interact with them in their own natural environment. It involves a hands-on experience of nursing, feeding and walking with them.This is probably more entertaining and truly fulfilling as you get to bond with them in their own primitive setting albeit having ample of wonderful opportunities to observe and perhaps appreciate them more - as one of God's marvelous creations!












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