Our mission to help the elephants of MaeVang

The Tuk Tuk club's mission to help feed the elephants of maevang, Chiang mai!

The global COVID-19 pandemic hit everyone very hard but the elephants of MaeVang who we’re lucky enough to meet on most of our adventures found themselves in some particularly challenging times. These wonderful animals are incredibly hungry animals and it costs a small fortune to make sure they have enough food each day to remain healthy. And of course the mahouts who live with and look after the elephants also need food too! With zero income from the start of the pandemic through to the very end it became increasingly difficult for the elephant home to survive and that’s where The Tuk Tuk Club try to do their bit. Read on and learn of our efforts!

But before that, a quick note about MaeVang Elephant home. This is a very small ( currently just 7 elephants) home run by a family who have looked after elephants for decades. They, and their mahouts, are hugely passionate about their elephants and offer small group (effectively private) opportunities for visitors to learn about, meet and marvel at these beautiful animals at their small base around 60 minutes South West of Chiang Mai. They do not allow riding – they have led the way in the local area regarding this – and any visitor will immediately sense how much passion they have for what they do. The don’t have a fancy website and aren’t great at PR, however they are superb at looking after and at creating wonderful opportunities to learn about elephants.

one middle aged man, one bicycle and 2,300km's of rural roads

Bruce - the founder of The Tuk Tuk Club - decided that he really must do something to support MaeVang Elephant home during those challenging COVID times. So, he jumped on his bike back in May of 2021, pedalling over 2,300km's to the far North East of Thailand by the mighty Mekong and back in 20 days. Solo, armed only with a stubborn streak and the determination to do something to help these wonderful elephants. Why 2,300km's? Well, firstly a challenge is meant to be difficult isn't it - and 120km a day, every day in 40C heat was not going to be easy - but also 2,000THB is the rough amount needed to feed and look after 2 elephants a day so there seemed to be some logic to it - at least there was after a couple of cold beers one evening!

How much were we trying to raise?

MaeVang elephant home had 8 elephants at the time so it cost around 200,000THB (£5,000) a month to look after the elephants and the mahouts. However, supporting them for just one month doesn't seem enough so Bruce was trying to raise 600,000THB (or just about £16,000) to look after the elephants for 3 months. Yes, this is a large amount of money but if we raised 1THB per pedal stroke that Bruce needed to do then we'd be roughly around our target - and the elephants would be covered for at least 3 months

why did we need your help?

A great question! The simple answer is that if you'd travelled with us on an adventure in Northern Thailand then you'll have met these wonderful elephants and from your feedback we know how much you've enjoyed the time spent with them. If you haven't been able to join us yet (and we hope you will in the future) we really want to be able to ensure that the elephants are in great shape for the long term. The elephant home themselves were incredibly strong over the entire COVID period - no complaining, no pleas for help and no 'woe is us'. They didn't ask us to do this - we just felt it was the right thing to be able to support these wonderful animals and the people who look after them

HOW can you help now?

Ou fundraising campaign is now over and we're delighted to see travellers coming back to Thailand and visiting the elephants and their mahouts and learning about these wonderful animals. If you'd like to help then the best way to do so is to travel with us and enjoy time in these wonderful animals company - and of course by travelling with us this makes sure that the home continues to receive on-going income to look after the elephants and develop the home further. The elephant home are incredibly proud of the fact that they can self sufficiently provide excellent care to the elephants in their family (now that we're back in normal times). If you would really like to help out though please get in touch and we'll be able to figure something out!

THE campaign tracker

Bruce's journey and the progress of our campaign was updated on The Tuk Tuk Clubs Facebook and Instagram accounts (if you have a thing for sweaty middle aged men in lycra then some of the photos are going to br right up your street), our blog and we've showed here how he progressed towards the financial goal. As of 30th June 2021: TARGET: £16,000 AMOUNT RAIASED: £13,996 (thanks to all for your support and generosity) DISTANCE RIDDEN - Bruce completed the ride in 18 days covering a total of 2,230km. Phew FOLLOW BRUCE'S RIDE ON FACEBOOK OR OUR BLOG

And one final thing...

We're sure you'd actually love to visit and see the wonderful elephants we fundraised for! So why not book a 1, 5 or 11 Day Adventure with us, all of which spend time with the elephants meaning you can see exactly where our (and your) efforts went!

the 'thank you' roll of honour

Huge thanks to all the wonderful people below who supported us with this campaign. Whether it's through a real love of the elephants or the joy of seeing Bruce suffer the pain of never ending saddle sores, we love you all the same! Ged Brown and the team at Low Season Traveller Clive Thomas at Prestige Promotions Paul Rock Bike Maintenance Mark and Travel begins at 40 Go Beyond Spice Roads - for the excellent cycling tops Gap 360 and team And to all the individuals who've been so unbelievably kind and generous in their support - words can't express how grateful we and the elephants are.

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