The last 12 months have been an incredibly difficult time for the world and the cost in lives, stress, economic challenges have been, and will continue to be, immense. Whilst Thailand has been very lucky in terms of illness and fatalities relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic hardship has been huge. We’ve seen so many businesses disappear, many of them small locally owned operations that have been supporting families and the community for years. We’ve seen hundreds of thousands in the travel industry lose the jobs they trained for and loved with a huge passion and this has been really hard to take.
However, there’s one particular small organisation that’s very close to our hearts who have been devastated by the impact of the pandemic and the fact that Thailand has in effect been closed to visitors for the last 12+ months, and that’s the beautiful elephants and the hard working mahouts at MaeVang Elephant Home.
The Tuk Tuk Club team have known MaeVang Elephant home for many years and have seen this fantastic, small organisation develop and in their gentle understated way, set a great example in how to care for their elephants whilst still allowing visitors to learn about, see and experience these wonderful animals. With 8 elephants they are a very small organisation and definitely not one of the ‘big guys’ who tend to dominate news about elephants in Thailand. They aren’t great at PR and Marketing and they don’t have a fancy website BUT they are superb at looking after their elephants and at allowing small scale visits for private groups to get a feeling for the wonderful animals that have been with then since birth.
Unfortunately, the close of tourism in the country has meant zero revenue for the organisation. And zero revenue has meant no income to feed the elephants and provide a living for the mahouts. They have battled on throughout the pandemic incredibly without complaint, without self-pity and with a stoicism that perhaps represents Thailand at it’s finest. However, one core fact remains and no amount of stoicism can overcome this – elephants are hungry animals and eat require a huge amount of varied food each day. And the mahouts, and their families, who care for the elephants also need healthy and varied food each day. Of course none of this comes cheaply but the organisation has dug deep into it’s reserves (and beyond) and even today still is looking after it’s elephants without complaint.
We may have been far too late in recognising this but Bruce Haxton, the Founder of The Tuk Tuk Club, is about to head off on a slightly crazy mission to try and raise the much needed funds to feed the elephants of MaeVang and also their hard working mahouts and we’d be very grateful if you can help us.
The Tuk Tuk Club has always loved the elephants in MaeVang and have delighted in seeing their travellers learn about the lives of the elephants and have the opportunity to experience these wonderful animals in such a private setting. The time is now long overdue for The Tuk Tuk Club to do what it can to help the elephants in their time of need.
So, Bruce is heading off in May (when temperatures are a mere 38-40C in much of the country) from Chiang Mai and cycling 2,300km’s through the North East of Thailand to Ubon Ratchatani near the mighty Mekong river. And then heading back to Chiang Mai, via Surin – another home of elephants in Thailand – and far too many km’s of quiet country roads!
And please note, Bruce is no Tour de France whippet! Middle aged, not especially fit and known for celebrating any physical endeavour (or anything at all) with a cigarette, he’s going to be trying to cycle solo 120km a day for 20 days along these rural roads in temperatures of up to 40C.
Why is he doing this slightly bonkers ride?
Simple – he’s determined to do his bit to try to raise enough money to feed the elephants and their mahouts for at least 3 months.
And how much money is needed?
The goal is to raise 650,000THB (around £16,000 or $22,000 USD)
If we can raise more than 3 months worth of food then fantastic and it should be noted that Bruce has threatened not to stop cycling until we’ve at least reached the 3 month goal – although he understands this may encourage some to do their best to keep him out on the road!
We’d be delighted if anyone wants to do their bit to support the elephants in MaeVang. Whether this is by donating money to the cause or sharing this with friends.
Donations can be made through the JUST GIVING page set up for this ride and please know that every penny, cent and baht will go towards making a huge difference to animals in great need. And of course you have the satisfaction of following Bruce’s painful (and probably painfully slow) ride!
We of course absolutely understand that times are tough for everyone but please remember that there’s little the elephants can do in these times – they can’t ‘pivot’ their business, they can’t re-train and start a new career and there’s no such things as government ‘furlough’ for elephants.. But we feel that we must make sure we do what we can to help ensure that they can remain fit and healthy no matter what
Thank you in advance and we hope you enjoy……
a) watching a middle aged man struggle on his bike for over 2,300km’s in the height of the Thai summer and
b) helping the wonderful elephants of MaeVang
Here’s to some good news coming out of these difficult times and to some well fed elephants and the families that look after them.