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Thai Elephants Trudge Home
News Bytes 05/14/2020 25 Comments

The unemployed headcount in Thailand includes some very large noggins. They belong to elephants. The giant animals depend on tourists to fund their food. But with few visitors due to the coronavirus, elephant camps and sanctuaries are running short of income. Now more than 100 pachyderms have been sent packing.

The Save Elephant Foundation in the Chiang Mai province has been promoting the elephants’ return to the greener pastures of home. The foundation does support fundraising appeals to feed animals still housed at tourist parks. But the group also believes it’s good for the elephants to return to their natural habitat.

Save Elephant also says the animals are abused at many high-profile tourist attractions. Additionally, some estimates say as many as 2,000 tame elephants are at risk of starvation because their owners are unable to feed them.

Since last month, more than 100 of the animals have tromped from Chiang Mai to their homeland of Mae Chaem. Members of the Karen ethnic minority live there. They traditionally keep elephants.

Sadudee Serichevee owns four elephants in Chiang Mai. He followed the foundation’s approach in setting up his own small Karen Elephant Experience park. He brought elephants from Ban Huay Bong, his wife’s village. But his good intentions were no match for the coronavirus.

“At first I thought the situation would be back to normal within a month or two. At the end of April, I lost all hope,” Sadudee says.

He and his wife agreed to take their elephants back to her village because they could no longer handle the monthly expenses for land and facilities rental, handler salaries, and food. (Elephants eat as much as 660 pounds a day of grass and vegetables!)

The couple convinced some other owners to make the 95-mile trek on foot with them. Elephants can maintain a walking speed of 4.5 miles per hour. Besides, trucking the behemoths is too expensive for owners of small parks.

The caravan of 11 elephants plus owners and trainers set out on April 30. They traveled over hills, on paved and dirt roads. They were greeted by a welcome-home party on their arrival at Ban Huay Bong on Monday.

“These elephants have not had a chance to return home for 20 years. They seem to be very happy when arriving home. They make their happy noises. They run to the creek near the village and have fun along with our children,” Sadudee says.

“We don’t know when COVID-19 will go away,” says Save Elephant’s founder Saengduean Chailert. “So this is our task, to help feed the elephants that were laid off because of the outbreak.”

(A herd of elephants walks along a dirt road during a journey from Mae Wang to Ban Huay in northern Thailand. Save Elephant Foundation via AP)

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Most recent comments

First Comment! (At least I think....)

Who else was confused when they read the title of the article? Lol I sure was! But anyway, I'm glad they are taking care of the elephants, and letting them go home.


A little confused as well, but yes I am happy they are looking out for the elephants. : )

Lots of Food!!!!

Those creatures are big and it sure takes a lot of food to feed them, especially if you have a couple of them. I am glad that they are doing what they can to keep the elephants from starving. That is a LONG walk!
Also, We sang a hymn called "Ready" last night. I thought it fit really well with what we are going through with the coronavirus. Look it up if y'all get a chance!

What’s everyone favourite

What’s everyone favourite songs? These are my top three:
1- Grace got you - By MercyMe
2- Who you say I am - Hillsong Worship
3- The breakup song - Francesca Battistelli
Grace got you is sooooo good! I could listen to it over and over again.

@Mirela J

My favorite hymn is "On Eagle's Wings" It is a cool tune with good words taken from Psalm 19 and other places.

That's a lot of elephants!

That's a lot of elephants!

@ Riley

It sounds nice.

@ Gloriana and Nadia

@Mirela 9th comment P.S This is Caro

I like Amazing Grace, Rewrite the stars, and Cornerstone. As well as a bunch of other songs. Has anyone heard of Moriah Peters? I did a scarf dance to one of her songs, they are so good!


I just want to make an edit to my comment. one of my other favourite songs is Resurrection power - Chris Tomlin.

Good for the elephants!

I'm glad the elephants are getting some vacation time during the coronavirus. I would be happy if I were them.


yes i like Amazing Grace and Conerstone too. But i've never heard of Moriah Peters.

This is Mylee

Elephants eat a bunch a food.since their is no tourists around I think it is good for them to go back to their natural habitat. Mirela J. I love all those songs but I like Rooftops, I Raise a Hallelujah , This is how I fight my battles and some others. I love all the songs you put especially who you say I am.


I like Friendship 1940 it’s a funny song lol. And 1940 does your chewing gum lose its flavour on the bedpost at night lol


I was a little confused too but that’s a lot of food and a long walk. My favourite songs are: The victory is yours, In the river, Defendar, forever,Pieces,and overcomer

@ London

I like Overcomer too! Have you watched the Overcomer film? By the Kendrick brothers? It is really good!

@ N A

Sorry I’ve just been onto the article about the band and I’ve just realised that you already asked about favourite songs. I’m sorry!


I have seen overcomer it’s a good movie


It was really interesting to read this article, because my family and I went to Thailand and rode elephants at a camp.

@Family P

That's so cool! I would love to travel a lot whenever I get the chance.

And I also love the song ‘Joy

And I also love the song ‘Joy’ by For King and Country. Sooo catchy!

@Family P

My dad and grandparents rode elephants in India once or twice! That is so cool you got to!

when he was little, that is

when he was little, that is

@ Everyone

I've been to Thailand, but I've never ridden elephants. The first time we went, we drove from Southern China, through Laos, and into Chiang Mai (a city) for vacation. But close to where we lived in China there was a rainforest with wild elephants (in the mountains) and when you drove through that area, there'd be elephant crossing signs--like the deer crossing signs in America! We never saw one though.

@Kara N

That's cool!

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