June 14, 2010
At the break of dawn I left a little piece of heaven called Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary. Completely removed from the real world, this elephant paradise is a ray of hope for Asian elephants. I am thankful that I decided to stay a few days because that is the only way to take in everything that is Boon Lott’s.
Inspired by the short life and death of a brave baby elephant named Boon Lott, this sanctuary has done something no other has. What they have created is a model for others to imitate and honestly I hope many do.
It seems that it takes an “outsider” to break all the rules. It also appears that women are willing to work outside the box for elephant welfare. Thank goodness! The founders of Boon Lott’s share a love of elephants; one, a lifetime mahout, the other an English woman who championed for a baby elephant named Boon Lott. Together they are making a mark on the story which is elephant. Their future is bright.
The facilities are designed with the elephant’s welfare and comfort in mind — well designed, functional, artistic and meticulously spotless. Kat and Anon have dedicated their lives and their every effort to elephants. The family atmosphere includes not only Kat, Anon and their children but the mahouts, their families and the elephants they have built their lives around. All of the elephants are rescues with staggering stories to tell.
Even though Kat and Anon allow visitors an intimate perspective into the lives of the elephants, they do not exploit the elephants to do so. No rides are offered. The visitors are allowed to observe the elephants as they go about their day from dawn to dusk, starting with a morning bath, followed by a long walk to grazing and foraging habitat, afternoon swim time and another excursion to the forest, where the elephants are tethered overnight. The events of the day are not designed for the visitor; they are the elephant’s daily activities and the visitor is permitted to observe.
The Sanctuary is young, not five years old yet, and already they are home to ten rescued elephants. The goal is to expand land holdings so that areas can be fenced, making it possible to release the elephants tether-free overnight. Fencing is a must in order to accomplish this goal in order to ensure the elephants’ safety.
Their challenges are many but Kat and Anon have beaten the odds so far, creating a model sanctuary. I am honored to know these two amazing people and the talented team of forward-thinking mahouts and their families that make Boon Lott’s the special place that it is. The elephants that call Boon Lott’s home are lucky elephants indeed.
I have high hopes for Kat and Anon. Much pressure will be on them over the next many years, to continue what they have started. Blazing this trail is hard but the progress that has already been made is astonishing. I know this team and the elephants they care for will help change the face of elephant management in Thailand.