Saturday, August 15, 2020

At peace with the gentle giants of Koh Lanta

Feb 29. 2020
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By The Nation

Built with the support of the wildlife protection organisation World Animal Protection, the jungle-covered “Following Giants” attraction on Koh Lanta confirms how Thailand’s elephants thrive in completely natural surroundings and why such habitats must be better preserved.

It’s an environment where the elephants can go about their lives just being elephants – no rides for humans or painting pictures with a brush in their trunks, no bizarre balancing acts or circus tricks. 

There are many human visitors, of course, but they’re walking in the elephants’ footsteps and never disturbing them, merely forging passive connections and getting to understand them better.

Visitors have a variety of activities to choose among, involving not just watching the elephants – notably bird’s-eye views from a tree-house – but also helping replenish their natural food sources.

It’s fun and fulfilling to make and distribute through the forest “seed bombs”, of which the elephants with their massive appetite need a constant supply. 

Following Giants has three resident elephants, named Sow, Jahn and Chok, who appear as content as any you might encounter in the wild. That’s something of a miracle in itself, because all three led punishing lives previously, toiling in logging camps or constantly carrying around tourists. Now they’re free to live the unfettered lives to which they were born.

World Animal Protection seeks to provide a happier and more beneficial life for animals and also show communities how they can exchange traditional business practices for kinder, nobler endeavours that still attract tourists and ample income.

A visit to Following Giants is a show of support for the remarkable tusked creatures that call Thailand home, and it encourages more communities like those on Koh Lanta to embrace more eco-friendly approaches to tourism.

Visits can be arranged by contacting the owner, Charae Sangkaow, at [email protected] or (084) 744 7060.

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