Bai Cha’s life is the same as all old elephants, a path with many twists and turns. She is originally from Mae Jeam, and her registered name from the original owner is Kham Noi. Her first owner is the Karen family and her early life labor was pulling logs for many decades, until the logging ban. Then the owner moved her to work for tourist riding, as with so many other elephants. In the Karen tribe, she was owned by many families and each family switched to use her each year. Record research about Kham Noi shows that she has had a baby but not yet certain how many, although one owner said that she has had 4 babies. Kham Noi later changed hands and was sold from her home in the North to Surin province (lower northeastern Thailand) and later she was taken to the South of Thailand to work at logging again. After some years, she returned to being a trekker around Southern Thailand for many years. Her latest owner moved her to work in a tourist camp in Pattaya. BaiCha was tired. She is old. She walks very slow because her ankles are sore, making it difficult to walk. When our founder- Lek Chailert met Bai Cha and her two friends (all of them have one eye blind), Lek tried to convince the owner to allow us to provide them retirement. Luckily, the old lady Bai Cha could come back to her homeland and spend her days remaining in freedom and dignity.
Bai Cha’s rescue journey started on 14th September 2016, she arrived her forever home at Elephant Nature Park on 18 September 2016. Her two friends, Boon Mee and Bua Baan were rescued to ENP on October 2016. This old lady arrived in critical condition with much life trauma . Daily we tried to help her, to improve her health and to do as much as we can to assist her to join the herd. She preferred her own company. She was scared of others who would walk close by. We tried to introduce her to both groups and loners among our herd but she would rather stay peaceful by herself. We made a space for her, peaceful and apart. Her mahout took her for exercise every day. Every day, in the early afternoon, when few elephants were around, she preferred relaxing in the river alone. Since the mid December 2020, Bai Cha has shown deteriorating health. Sometimes, when she walked in the field, she would collapse and lay down for awhile until she was ready to stand up again by herself. Recently, she couldn’t walk to the river because her body was so weak. Our vet monitored her and provided appropriate treatment. In February 2021, she seemed back to herself again, eating well with improved strength each day. She walked to the river again but still not confident to lay down to sleep.
For the last two nights, she lay down again to rest. On the morning of 15 May 2021 we found that she did not try to stand up. She did not even try to lift her head. We let her rest, she slept well, given a peaceful time by herself until before midday. And then she slipped away, old age embracing her and kindness all around. Her last breath was surrounded by love and care.
Almost Six years this beautiful lady graced our land. To see her change from the former life after she arrived with us is heartwarming, Bai Cha is one of many elephants who teaches us the way of trauma and a lifetime of abuse. This is what we have done, and captivity is yet an unreconciled evil. For five and a half years, BaiCha enjoyed the freedom at our park. She deserved a lifetime of good care and respect. Her freedom now is completed and her journey of the new life started, her beautiful soul is now across the rainbow bridge. RIP granny Bai Cha. We love you and you will always be missed.