In the history of mahout in Thailand , only two groups of people handle the elephant. The Karen Tribe is one of this group. The Karen Tribal families stay along the Thai – Myanmar border. In the old time they used elephants to work for logging, but when the Thai government banned this activity in 1989, most of them were jobless, but some still carried on to work as the illegal logging.
When the Thailand tourist boom happened, elephant riding became the highlight of this attraction. Karen people then took their elephant to work in the trekking camp. This was so far from home, 8-10 hours drive from their village. Most Karen elephant owners remained home to take care of their farm, and their children. Many of them decided to lease their elephant to the camps and came to get the payment every month . Most elephant are not under the elephant owner’s care. They typically have no idea how many hours the elephant is used to work. Many times they found that their elephant is sick, and sometimes they found out too late. Some elephant die in the camp and never return to the village again. Some families decide to sell their elephant .
The bond between the Karen and elephant is very sensitive to us. Their is a fragile connection now between generation old and new..we are concerned for the loss of culture now..the young generation of Karen are starting to disconnect with the elephant. In Northern Thailand , we have about 700 domestic elephants, but Karen own only 20 percent of that population . Most of them still have their elephant work to service riding and performing in the tourist facility and the trekking camp.
Today our organization gives the hand to help the Karen people to bring the elephant back to their village. We are Helping them to set up their own sanctuary , taking the elephant out of the saddle , no performing, and show the family to learn how to take care of the elephant with humane care. After a couple of months preparing for today, the first Karen Elephant project commences: Karen Elephant Experience .
If you want to come to have a long day experience with elephant in the jungle , to see them roam free and support the Karen family to carry on their mahout culture please come to visit and support them !