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September 05 newsletter

By Lek Chailert

Land slides, floods and an elephant needing rescue

Land Slides

September has been a very difficult month. We have had heavy rain and flooding. The park was safe but our city office was under water for the second time in two months, though the water level not as high. The rain still continues, very heavy, day and night. At our park we rushed to build shelters for all the elephants because October forecasts predict cold rain which can make the elephants sick, especially the old and very young.

On Sep 26, the relentless rain continued. At around 4 pm we suddenly hear the panicked elephants screaming very loud, their frightened calls echo in the valley. Seconds later we hear a huge noise like thunder. The mountain in front of the park is moving with trees, shrubs and rocks sliding down the slopes. It sounds like an airplane landing. The noise and movement continue for 15 minutes then fall silent.

The mud and earth has fallen, big rocks and trees lie in a huge mound that blocks the road. All transport to that area now cut out. We have to drive to the other side of the mountain to carry the food for the elephants. For the first 2 days no help arrived from the local government so we decided to help ourselves. Our volunteers gave us a hand to open the road which is about one meters high of packed mud.

We searched for the starting point of the land slide and tried to clear all of the trees out of the way. When we walked up hill then we saw a mother elephant, who worked at a tourist camp, had just given birth. We estimate this happened 2 days ago. She and her little baby stand close to the point where the land slide started. When we get close to her we saw that her body is full of cuts and wounds from knife stabs. She is very sick from the resulting infections. One of our mahout ran down to the park to get her medicine and we treat her. It really make us sad. Sadder than the land slide.


This year it is not just Northern Thailand that has had trouble from floods, many places around the world also suffered from this problem . It seems mother earth is sending a warning to humanity to look back and do more to care for the earth. We can not be angry with what has happened but we have to listen and learn how to make the world better to live in.

Northern Thailand's rainy season starts mid May with rainfall heavies in August. The season then calms down as winter arrives at the end of October.

This year we have flood attacks many times but the worst was on 15 of August. Without any warning the park become a big lake overnight. Waves come so quick and we have to rush to take all the animals out from parks low ground. The mahout who stay at the river side do not have enough time to carry their belongings because they have to take care of their elephants first. Bedding and personal effects are gone with the river. Big logs float from the mountain and combine with waves to attack our fences, huts, and shelters.

All of our animals are safe and we put them in the dry place and enough food.

I see the flood moving down from the park and realized that the swelling water levels will soon swamp and flood the city. I have animals and handicap dogs at my office so I I come out from the mountain to get a phone signal and ask my staff to move the animals to the 4th floor. Some of my staff still couldnít believe that they would soon be under water. We drove back to the city racing with the river but I came to late

The floods are so high at the night market area. I have a 4 WD car but cannot driver on the road any more. The water is over half a meter high and rising. I saw many goods from hawkers stalls such as silk garments and souvenirs floating around the market. I kept walking to the office and call to my staff. The telephones have been cut. No electric, no phones, no mains water.

After I am sure that all dogs and cats are safe I walk to the car again and hurried to a supermarket outside the town to buy animals food. On the way back we bought a cheap plastic boat to carry food to our building. Along the way we saw 2 dogs which had been locked in cages. They paddled to keep afloat and were desperate to get out. The water level was up almost to the top of the cage.

We have big stock food for all of my staff who willing to stay the office to help me to look after the animals. Many of them had moved out to stay in drier places.

The water had risen to 4 meters in some areas where cars and houses were under water. We heard a government helicopter fly over and make an announcement but it was not clear what they said. We bought food it for a week and I fed the the cats that have gathered at the balcony

The next day I saw about 30 of hungry cats came to eat my cat food. They must jump from one building to the other building on the roof to looking for food.

Our cats let them join the food . It seem they are very hungry. Those cats have been left behind. Today the flood is gone, but some cats still cannot go back home. Some of them bring more friends. It seem our vet will be busy again to sterilize and vaccine them.

The disaster doesn't just harm human beings. Innocent animals suffer as well. It seems unfair to see they have been left behind. When you look at the eyes of them you will see a lots of questions. They must wonder why they get punished. They are not the ones who cut the trees, burned forests and changed the climate.

These floods are a signal from mother earth - a message to us all. Let this guide us to take more care of our world. It is not too late to start today. It not too difficult to join hands to save nature. Our other choice is obvious. Ignore it and have no place to stay.

Editors note: The park is open for visitors and volunteers. Please see this section if you wish to visit.

Our offices are all fully functional.

Landslide & Floods

Sad, yet dignified, after sustained abuse.

Rescue Mission - An Elephant Needs help

Mae Bia is female elephant age 55 years old who has worked hard all her life. For the last 15 years she has been working at a trekking camp transporting tourists. Last month she became very sick with badly infected eyes. We donít want her to work and we want to rest her. The owner wants 1750 US$ for her freedom.


Oct 05 : - Mae Bia has been rescued. Full report

Looking for a new home

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