Deep in the jungle of Thailand lies a magical place filled with love, compassion, and a special understanding for the survival of elephants. Boon Lott's Elephant Sanctuary, or "BLES" for simplicity sake, provides a safe haven for elephants to live out their days in their natural environment. Elephants can come from many different situations in need of a new home. Some of the elephants at the sanctuary have been retired from their work with local villagers, some may have been used to amuse tourists for tips. Sadly though, many have been rescued from being abused and overworked. All the elephants from BLES have been given a second chance no matter what their story.
The amazing (and probably a little crazy) person responsible for saving the lives of these amazing creatures is Katherine Connor. I say crazy because without even meeting her I know she created this place with her heart, knowing full well some of the tasks she takes on are virtually impossible. Regardless, she does it anyway! Katherine, a British expat, started BLES in honor and memory of baby elephant Boon Lott, which means survivor in Thai. You can read about Boon Lott's full story on the BLES website.
Like I said earlier, because of her heart, Katherine changed her whole life by moving from Britain to
Thailand to establish a safe haven for elephants. Everything she does for them is possible through the endless fundraising that she does. Katherine also depends on a well working team to assist her. She has recruited and educated many locals to help with the handling of the elephants and the chores at BLES. Elephant handlers are referred to as "mahouts". Mahouts feed and care for the elephants all the while establishing a mutual respect between man and this gentle giant.
One of the many ways that Katherine has established to raise funds for BLES is to allow people to come stay on site and learn more about what really goes on while rescuing and caring for elephants. It is what you would call a working vacation for those that are interested. There are no fancy frills or crazy rides. It is not an adventure park. There are three guesthouses, all made from sustainable materials collected from the land. They are located in close proximity so as to enjoy the everyday sounds and the lifestyle of the elephants. Guests will have the opportunity to perform chores and interact directly with the mahouts to learn more about the care of the elephants. They will also be able to interact directly with the elephants. 100% of the funds received go directly to the care of the animals.
I was introduced to BLES by my son after he was approached to assist with a fundraiser for them. The more I read about BLES, the more I knew I needed to go see it for myself. So, I plan to join my son in May of this year and travel to this amazing sanctuary. My son will be recording and producing an audio project involving all the inhabitants of BLES. Meanwhile, I will be doing all I can to get to know all the residents and help in anyway I can. I will be photographing and writing about BLES in hopes of creating even more awareness and raise more funds.
There is so much more to learn about BLES and you can do this by visiting their website and meeting their entire family. Don't be surprised to find out that this sanctuary also rescues cats, dogs, goats, tortoises, and just about any animal that needs a new home and a little extra love.
I am setting up a donation widget for anyone that wants to assist us by sponsoring our trip and donating to the BLES fund. We will be paying our own airfare so any money raised here will be given directly to BLES. So bookmark this post and share with your friends. Come back and visit us often to check on our progress.