Hope for Elephants Project:
Till 2015 Tabae, Mae Noi and her 6 year old daughter Faa Sai were forced in the trekking industry. Every day they had to walk all day long with saddles filled with heavy tourists on their backs. Mae Noi’s youngest daughter, baby Lai Yom stayed then behind in the shelter. Even young Faa Sai was forced to carry all day long this heavy weight on her back. Just like all elephants having an existence like this, baby-elephants around age 2 are first forced into phajaancruelty to break their spirit. The youngest of these group elephants was 2 year old baby Lai Yom. Soon she her spirit would be broken too in the phajaancruelty. After that it would be just a matter of violence and time before she would be forced to join her family with heavy saddle and tourists on her back. Faa Sai and her younger sis have a special bond. While their mother all day walks with the heavy load on her back Faa Sai sometimes stays behind with her baby sis.
In the summer of 2015 all came to an end when Lek managed to rescue these elephants and turn the trekkingcamp into a Saddle Off project named Hope for Elephants Project. The saddles were unleashed and thrown away. For the first time in decades old Tabae and mama Mae Noi were free to walk around without chains, saddles and violence. Young Faa Sai was very relieved that she could roam free and play with her babysister.
From now on no more riding, no more violence for these elephants. Instead of riding the elephants they help with preparing the food, feed the elephants, although they can eat themselves. The elephants have adjust their new lives quite well. The severely raffled damaged ears of Mae Noi and Tabae are silent reminders of the violence they had to endure, just as the countless scars on their bodies and their left attitude. While eating their food the young Faa Sai first enjoys everything she takes, cucumbers, melon, bananas. Sometimes Faa Sai seems to be scared out for something. Suddenly she steps back, head down as if she is expecting to be hit, punished or other violence. It is obvious that on these moments Faa Sai has reflections of her past and remembers very well the torture. Faa Sai too has scars all over her body. After few minutes she seemed to realize that her life is changed now. No more abuse, no more bullhooks, no more riding trekking. Instead of that a roam free with her family.
Slowly Faa Sai started to remind that her life indeed had changed for the better now. No more abuse. No more! Faa Sai loves to eat 3 bananas in once. Her younger baby sister Lai Yom was quite afraid to play but gradually she overcame that fear more. She loved to dive into the bushes and took large branches to play with. Even in her behavior the reflections of the past were recognizable as she was suddenly hesitating to play at all and stepped away from the branch. Only when being close her mother and sister Lai Yom felt free to play and have fun. For the first time ever in their lives mother Mae Noi was free and felt free to enjoy the water with both her daughters close by her side. For the first time in their lives they could behave naturally and do what they want out of their free will.
To see a loving caring mother playing with her 2 precious girls in the water, to watch a mother with her 2 beautiful daughters feeling trustful and relaxed enough, to play and share intimate and precious mother daughter moments, is most heartwarming and such a joy to witness. This is what all elephants deserve and their birthright.
Unfortunately the mother Mae Noi and baby Lai Yom passed away some time later. Of course Faa Sai was heartbroken by losing her mother and babysister. With the support, love and care of her 2 older sisters Jenny and Kham Moon as well as older nanny TaBae she overcame the grieve and managed to enjoy her free life again.
r.i.p. baby Lai Yom.
After the loss of her mother and sister Faa Sai found a new future with her 2 older sisters Jenny and Kham Moon as well as nanny TaBae.
Faa Sai recently, looking happy and healthy.
This is about 3,5-4 years after my visit to Hope for elephants.