Creating the most progressive elephant experience together with Elephant Aid International

The management at Tiger Tops has recently spent four days with Carol Buckley, Founder and CEO of Elephant Aid International (www.elephantaidinternational.org) and her interns from around the world at Tiger Tops Elephant Camp to create, discuss, brainstorm, and learn. But first of all to make the measurements for the new elephant corrals, so that the elephants can become chain free as soon as possible. Here is a short account of what we have been up to.

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Introducing the elephants

First things first: meeting the elephants, the main stakeholders of this new adventure. Carol Buckley and her interns; Trish London, practicing veterinarian from the US; Lena Qunenard, an aspiring elephant sanctuary owner from Switzerland; and Lauren Kate an elephant welfare activist and kindergarden teacher from Australia were introduced to each elephant and given a short briefing on their history, personality, mood, state of health etc. by Bhim, head of the Elephant Camp.

 

 

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Envisioning the corrals

After a round of dhaal bhat, everyone went with renewed energy to see the area where the new corrals will be built. The approximately eleven acres of land offers a varied landscape for the elephants to enjoy with trees, open land, different types of flora, and a small valley with the possibility of creating wetland. And why not turn the old bungalow foundation into a pool for the elephants? Many ideas and visions came up during the walk.

 

 

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Activity brainstorm

First thing in the morning Carol and her interns went grass cutting with the Mahouts. We wanted them to experience what it would be like to be at Tiger Tops Elephant Camp as a guest, and to brainstorm with us how to make the best possible program for our guests, while always having the elephants’ best interest in mind. Many discussions and ideas came up during breakfast and breaks during the day, and we are convinced that together with Elephant Aid International we are creating a very unique elephant adventure!

 

 

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Discussions with the Mahouts

The Mahouts are the most important people at Tiger Tops Elephant Camp – without their collaboration there will be no Elephant Camp. They will have to change their way of thinking and acting. Their lives will change a lot, as they learn new skills and become more involved with the guests. Therefore, convincing them about the new concept that Tiger Tops is creating is vital. Not surprisingly, they are a little concerned and scared, but luckily Carol has great understanding for their situation, and DB does a good job on translating the new ideas to the Mahouts.

 

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Foot Trimming

On the last day of their visit to Tiger Tops, Carol Buckley and her interns took a good look at some of the elephants’ feet and they showed the Mahouts what to keep an extra eye on and how to care better for their elephants’ feet. The Mahouts were keen to learn and watched carefully what Carol was doing – and then gave it a try themselves.

 

 

 

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Measuring the corrals

While Carol was busy taking care of the elephants’ feet, the Tiger Tops staff measured the corrals and drew a map, so that the calculations for materials could be done. As soon as possible the materials will be ordered and shipped, and the corrals will go up in no time!

8 Responses

  1. It is a pleasure to be involved in this project to improve elephant welfare while providing a life changing experience for guests at Tiger Tops Elephant Camp.

    • TT Elephant Camp

      Dear Carol,

      We are proud to have you with us and we think it will be a life changing experience indeed – for elephants, mahouts, and staff as well as for the guests. We are looking forward to continue the work with you here in March.

      Best regards from everyone at Tiger Tops Elephant Camp

  2. This is fantastic, we can’t wait to see the end result! We will start planning our visit ASAP.
    Cheers,
    Thyra

    • TT Elephant Camp

      Dear Thyra,

      Thank you very much for your encouragement. If all goes according to plan we should get the materials for the corrals by March 1st and they will be built during the month of March. Carol Buckley will be here to help and advice on the corrals as well as the training of the mahouts. Until March we are training and practicing with the mahouts on various new practices, which will be necessary when the elephants are chain-free.

      Best regards from Tiger Tops Elephant Camp

  3. Vicki Werby

    Hello,

    Your statement “……. how to make the best possible program for our guests, while always having the elephants’ best interest in mind.” is entirely inaccurate based on your film Elephant Walk. You were ONLY concerned with getting the elephants where they needed to be regardless of the amount of water available and a host of other self serving issues. So please understand if I am a bit skeptical. In addition you are continuing with elephant polo and I assure you this is not in the best interest of the elephants. Honesty above all is a necessity to move forward in a compassionate way. You have a chance of helping these magnificent creatures from Carol Buckley and her crew.

    I believe the owners are not experienced in this capacity and unfortunately money is a huge motivator so please get humble and let Carol help you create a safe haven for the elephants.

    Regards,

    Vicki Werby

    • TT Elephant Camp

      Dear Vicki,

      Thank you very much for your comment. We are sorry to hear that you got such a bad impression from The Elephant Walk. We understand that you are skeptical and we hope to convince you that we do have good intentions for the elephants. The film was shot a few years back and we have since been acquainted with Carol Buckley and the great work she is doing with the government of Nepal and their elephants, making chain-free corrals. We are currently learning a lot from Carol Buckley and we have a lot of respect for her advice and try to follow it as far as possible. It is all work in progress.

      We do want to be honest and we are not hiding that we have done elephant safaris for 30 years or that the elephants have been trained in the traditional manner. Our mahouts have a great deal to learn and many habits to change in their handling of the elephants, and it will take time and great effort from all sides to attain our goals. Now the elephants are no longer doing elephant safaris and they will very soon be free of their chains. It’s a big and positive change, and it will take a lot of hard work.

      It’s true that money is a great motivator. Not the least because elephants are very expensive to keep if they are to be fed and taken care of properly, and because they employ quite a few people to look after them. We hope that the Elephant Camp will be a success and attract people so that we can inspire other owners of elephants to go chain-free – if it is because it is profitable for them, then that is great.

      Regarding polo, the topic is on the table about phasing it out. Due to current commitments polo will most likely continue for the near future. Tiger Tops is a family driven company, and Polo is the legacy of the founder Jim Edwards, who was a passionate conservationist, and the many traditions of polo have been carried on as a tribute to him from his four children. It is an event held to create awareness of conservation and of the plight of elephants worldwide. The elephants play only those five days per year when the World Elephant Polo Championships takes place. They are not trained or groomed to play polo, but simply receives the regular commands such as ‘go’, ‘back’, ‘left’, ‘right’. Polo has always been an open event and everyone is welcome to attend.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

      Best regards from Tiger Tops Elephant Camp

  4. Mrs. Ietje Breunis

    Well done, Tiger Tops. Lots of success to the mahouts, you have my gratitude. Your elephants will be so much happier. You will see them blossom and making friends. Thank you.

    • TT Elephant Camp

      Dear Mrs. Ietje,

      Thank you for your comment, we are looking very much forward to seeing the elephants chain-free and to see their reactions as they get to interact much more with each other. It is indeed very exciting.

      Best regards from all at Tiger Tops Elephant Camp

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