As COVID-19 brought the tourist industry to a halt in Thailand many gentle giants and their mahouts were forced to walk back to their villages. At the trekking camps there was no more food or work for the mahouts and their elephants. It was heartbreaking to see and even harder to imagine that the gentle giants would probably be forced back to work in the illegal logging industry once they reached the villages. Facing such urgency, We were forced to put on our thinking caps; trying to come up with solutions on how to help not only the elephants from having to go back to a life of hard labor and long hours working in the tourist industry, but also their mahouts. Originally all these elephants were leased out to trekking camps so that tourist can ride on their backs, see them do circus tricks, paint etc. Life for them was sad and full of hardship. The mahouts didn't have it easy either. They worked long hours for very little pay. And then, as opportunity presented itself, the new non profit Gentle Giants was born; partnering with Save Elephant Foundation (founder Lek Saengduean Chailert).
On May 3rd, 2020 after walking for 3 days a herd of 11 elephants reached their village. The Karen Tribe at Mea Chaem welcomed their elephants with open arms and so much love. For many of the elephants it was their first time in the village. For others, like Mae Jaa the eldest elephant of the group, it was returning to a home she had left long ago.
We are thrilled to launch The Gentle Giant Stay Home Project with our first beneficiary, 7 month old baby Lanna.
For just 50.00 dollars a year, you can sponsor baby Lanna or any other of the gentle giants in our project. By sponsoring these gentle giants you are supporting them to remain home and out of the tourist and/or logging industry. Your sponsorship will give these gentle giants the opportunity to stay within the forest roaming free among their own.
Each elephant has their own story and personality, which we will all be learning about as we get to know them better. Your sponsorship will go towards food, care, medical treatment and their mahout's wages. Your sponsorship will include a Sponsorship Certificate , a photo of your sponsored elephant & a "Gentle Giants personalized sponsorship badge"; which you may use as your social media profile picture.
Additionally, your sponsorship will help keep these Gentle Giants in the forest and their natural habitat. They will now be able to enjoy their lives as elephants; roaming free with their herd (their family). Their days of long hours walking under the scorching heat with tourists on their backs will have been left behind. Now, no chains will hold their feet. So not only are you benefiting these beautiful Gentle Giants, but you are also helping the community that coexist with them thrive.