On March 13th we launched Operation – Bring Mae Mor Home and on the 27th March we did just that!!!
Burm and I found Mae Mor 4 years ago living in appalling conditions. We set out on a mission to bring her home to BEES.
It took all this time to track down the owner as the camp managers were not forthcoming with the information. We finally found the owner earlier this year, we went to check on Mae Mor and she had deteriorated to the point where the camp could not work her, so they just chained her in the hot sun all day. Most recently, she had been paired with an inexperienced, teenaged Burmese mahout that has no background working with elephants and was clearly scared of her, as a result he used weapons to protect himself. This is all too common in camps throughout Asia, in time with our efforts we hope that we can also improve the training and general welfare of the mahouts.
We are simply horrified by the wounds covering her body, inflicted by what we can only presume are nails, although the mahout was also seen carrying an axe. We approached Mae Mor’s owners to discuss what their intentions would be with the money if we were to negotiate a price for Mae Mor’s permanent retirement at BEES. The owners told us that they are teachers and simply do not have time to look after an elephant, they would like the funds to better their own livelihoods. They felt sad for her and said that they would be honoured if we could take her to retirement, where she would no longer work and could receive the care she needs. The BEES team immediately swung in to action and started Operation – Bring Mae Mor Home, we paid a deposit to the owner and we started fundraising and making plans for her big move.
Unfortunately, funds only trickled in and we felt that time was running out, Mae Mor was deteriorating and she needed us now. She had lost the sparkle in her eyes, her painful body was covered in wounds and large abscesses. We couldn’t wait any longer, so we had to use project funds that are for the general daily upkeep for the sanctuary to Bring Mae Mor Home to BEES. We hope that with your help we can replenish these funds so we can continue to provide Mae Mor with medical treatments and look after the elephants and animals at BEES. Please consider making a donation via Simply Giving – Click Here.
On Monday 27th March we set out early to make the remainder of the payment to the owners and finalize paperwork which included transfer of ownership documentation and livestock transport clearances. When we arrived at the camp we found that Mae Mor had been moved into the shade of a small forested area, her owners concerned for her welfare had told the camp to move her immediately to shade right after we had expressed our concerns to them. They had not been able to visit Mae Mor for quite some time and had no idea of the state she was in. Mae Mor was walked down to the river where her young Burmese mahout gave her a bath, pulling her ankle bracelet that had spikes digging into her leg to make her come.
We fed her yummy treats, the owners gave her a farewell blessing and banana’s they had brought from their village to say their Goodbyes, they had smiles on their face to see her going to retirement, but also tears in their eyes. Mae Mor was loaded on to the truck around 4pm and set off for the district livestock office where the vets from Thai Elephant Conservation Centre hospital met us and together with the Livestock department gave a health check and cleared her for the journey. Mae Mor’s age is uncertain but she is believed to be in her late 60′s, possibly early 70s.
It was a long journey home. Elephants cannot be transported through the national park, our normal route, because the roads are too narrow and windy. We were forced to travel around the Doi Inthanon mountain which takes 2.5 hours longer. She arrived to BEES in the late evening where she walked happily off the truck and down the driveway to her new “home”.
Mae Mor spent the first day in the grass fields recovering from the big journey, no more spiked ankle bracelet and off the chain, she was very anxious, she enjoyed being in the fields alone, in the afternoon we used yummy treats like watermelon, banana, chopped up pumpkin and vitamin packed horse pellets to get her to the medical shelter and night enclosure. Mae Mor is still very anxious and we are slowly working to treat her and get her used to her new surroundings. She is in a lot of pain with her abscesses and on the truck ride home she could barely put her tail down, it seemed as though she couldn’t bare it rubbing on any of the support beams, she didn’t want it to touch anything. We had noticed a small wound there earlier but when we stopped to check her over, we soon realized it was another large abscess across the tail bone where it meets the base of the spine, it had erupted. Seeing Mae Mor in so much pain is heartbreaking, she is reluctant to explore and she seems quite frightened of people, with good reason as it seems humans have so badly damaged her, we have a lot of work to do to regain her trust.
Thong Dee has so graciously allowed Mae Mor to stay in her night enclosure, which is next to the medical shelter, while Mae Mor receives treatment and gets used to her new life here.
Mae Mor was bought by the family about 25 years ago and worked as a logging and farming elephant up until about 10 years ago when she was moved to work in tourism, she has stayed in Mae Taeng area, notorious for its many elephant camps since. Her owners Khun Nipon and his wife, and brother are happy to see her retired.
We will take it at her pace and hope that she will come out of her shell and learn to trust us. She has not yet shown interest in the other elephants and they haven’t yet shown interest in her.
Thank you all for your kind donations and support that helped us bring Mae Mor here, we still have a way to go to replenish the funds that we borrowed from the project to bring her home.
Please consider making a donation via Simply Giving:
OR Via Bank Transfer to the BEES Elephant Foundation Bank (Please PM us so we can be sure to issue a receipt once things have settled down for Mae Mor)
Donate via Bank Transfer:
ACCT NAME: BEES ELEPHANT FOUNDATION
ACCT #: 006 3 31743 8
SWIFT CODE: KASITHBK
LOCATION: 45 Moo 4 Charoenniran , Amphur Maechaem, Tambon Chang Keung, Chiang Mai, Thailand 50270
Together we can really achieve amazing things, Thank you for helping us Bring Mae Mor home!
Warm Trumpets and Grumbles of Thanks,
Emily, Burm and all of the BEES Team x
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