In late November, I spent a week at this sanctuary as a volunteer, helping out with the daily jobs that keep the park running and getting up close to these incredible animals.
Chores ranged from cleaning the shelters where they slept, to preparing the masses of food that over thirty elephants can consume, to bathing them (and getting considerably soaked ourselves) in the river that runs around the perimeter of the sanctuary. It’s quite surreal, living in such close proximity with these giants, and something that I will never forget.
The founder of the park is a woman named Lek Chailert, who has struggled against both the local people and the government to establish this refuge centre.
She gave an inspirational lecture on one of the first nights about the importance of being a voice for those without one, and also explained the crucial role that volunteers play in the existence of the sanctuary, as it is not a government-funded institution and receives little local support.