During our time exploring Sauraha, the small town outside the Chitwan National Park in Nepal, we wanted to visit an elephant sanctuary. Our whole trip in Asia we were searching for an ethical sanctuary that didn’t exploit the elephants for tourists like much of the elephant baths and elephant ride photos you see posted on the internet. We wanted to interact with these magnificent creatures in the most natural way possible. Elephants are the largest land animal, their brains have more neurons than the human brain, and they can communicate in a unique way through vibrations. They are exceptionally smart and are truly wonderful creatures. Unfortunately, in Asian countries elephants can be seen as a source of income by locals and can be brutally mistreated in the tourism industry. They are used to make money by offering rides and performing tricks. We were heartbroken to see elephants corralled in small areas to be photographed by the passerby. When the elephants reach an age where they can no longer be used for tourism the mistreatment can get even worse since they can no longer be used to make money. If you visit Asia or any other place that has elephant tourism, please help by doing your part to raise awareness about these amazing animals.
We are grateful to have found Direct Aid Nepal, Nepal’s first sanctuary for retired elephants. This wonderful organization rescues working elephants to live and enjoy the rest of their lives in peace. Since domesticated elephants are unable to be returned to the wild, this is the best case scenario for these animals. The elephants are purchased from their owners and brought to live freely in the plains of Sauraha. We decided to do a bush walk and the wellness program with the three elephants Direct Aid Nepal was caring for. We went on the bush walk with Samrat Gaj, a young male, and his mother Sirjana Kali who he was rescued with. They wandered through the plains surrounding the town playing and grazing as they pleased. The third elephant, Lucky Kali was playing in the river nearby. After the walk the elephants returned to the sanctuary. It was feeding time for the elephants so we sat down with the mahouts (elephant keepers) and made elephant sandwiches, goodies wrapped up in long grain grass. We fed the elephants and ensured their chain free corrals were safe for the evening time.
It was an incredible experience to be up close and personal with these creatures. We could truly feel the connection with them looking into their eyes. We encourage everyone to respectfully partake in ethical activities interacting with elephants in order to gain a better understanding. Help spread awareness about these intelligent creatures and save them from mistreatment in the working tourist industry. If you would like to help this organization and these elephants you can donate to their cause here. Or learn about the elephants under their care here. We’ll be writing a future post about our whole experience in the Chitwan National Park- stay tuned. Love & light to all. <3
You can shop the gear we used during this trip at the links below…
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