A cornerstone of our mission here at TORRAIN is not only to produce and promote sustainable products that improve the environment and support local communities, but also to encourage sustainable travel practices. I recently had the privilege of taking a long-awaited solo trip (my first ever) to Thailand ~ a place I had been dreaming of going to for a solid 10 years.
It was a truly amazing experience, but the most humbling part of the journey was the time I got to spend freely roaming around with hundreds of rescued elephants at Elephant Nature Park in Northern Thailand. Most were rescued from the illegal logging industry, others from riding camps and performance shows. I am here to keep a promise to our guide Nan and pass on one very important message:
NEVER RIDE AN ELEPHANT!
India, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar are all known for elephant tourism. I am here to implore you to never ride an elephant or pay money to see elephants do tricks. If an elephant is doing these things, it means they have endured years of physical and psychological torture. I will spare you the details, but we were shown very graphic footage of how the ‘training’ process works and it was horrifying. Mankind has been wicked to elephants, but thankfully a conscious shift is finally happening. Many of the staff at Elephant Nature Park used to be ‘trainers’ who now want to make it right.
Many well-intending travelers simply don’t realize the horrendous things that go on behind the scenes of an innocent looking elephant ride. If you find yourself in a part of the world where elephant tourism is abound, please support an organization that is geared toward rescue and rehabilitation, and not abuse and exploitation. It was a wonderful feeling to have contributed to the healing and safety of these awesome creatures and to support the individuals who are dedicating their lives to making a positive impact.
Elephants are the most majestic, magical gentle giants and it was such an honor to be in their presence. Do us a favor and please pass along this message?
With much love and respect,
Kristin of the TORRAIN Team