Jokia: my adopted Elephant
Chiang Mai Travel Blog› entry 27 of 32 › view all entries
January 4th, 2010 – by: jaeWALK
Meet Jokia, my elephant via Elephant Nature Park's Foster An Elephant Program.
Ever since meeting Jokia last October and learning about her story, there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to take her under my wing and help her and the other elephants at the park, as well.
Born in 1960 along the border of Thailand and Burma, As a young elephant, Jokia worked in the logging industry for a family belonging to the Karen tribe. However, when the logging ban took effect in 1989, Jokia along with many elephants, were forced out of work. With no source of income to support such a large animal, she was eventually sold by her owners to an illegal logging camp.
Jokia was forced to work illegally even during her entire pregnancy. While at work, she gave birth to her baby, who unfortunately rolled down the hill behind her. Despite this incident, she was not allowed to stop working and tend to her newborn. The baby died that very instant. Depressed and heartbroken, Jokia refused to work since then- despite the mahout's physical threats.
The mahout grew impatient with her. He used a slingshot and shot at her until she was blinded in one eye. Because of this Jokia became resentful even if she went back to work for a few more weeks.
It wasn't long until sadness and anger overcame her again and she hit her owner. With no sympathy for the elephant and believing that a completely bling elephant would be more submissive, Jokia's owner shot her remaining eye with a bow and arrow.
Completely blind, she was forced back to work, but became very stubborn and distrustful of humans.
Jokia was rescued by Lek Chailert of the Elephant Nature Park, who first encountered the poor elephant being beaten very badly. She was then sold to the park, where she has found a new lease in life and a loving family.
Even though Jokia lives in perpetual darkness, it's comforting to know that she is safe and remains to be well-loved by many.
For more information on the Elephant Nature Park and how you can save the wild Elephants from extinction and provide a better life for domesticated ones, please visit Elephant Nature Foundation and Elephant Nature Park. (links below)
I don't want to sound too preachy, but if i may ask all of you, please DO NOT FEED the elephants on the streets of BKK and elsewhere in Thailand. I am guilty of this myself in the past. it's just too tempting, how could one not feed the elephants on the street for 20Baht a pop! But before you do, please think about their health and how they are treated. street elephants have a very short life expectancy due to the poor quality of their diet, if you don't stop feeding them you are helping kill them. if you stop supporting their masters, then there's a big chance they will stop this trade. also, baby elephants belong in the jungle, the bright lights of the city and the loud noises are alien to them.
another way you can help is by choosing elephant treks and shows that treat their elephants humanely. always check with your operator, and if possible you can even change the program itself. instead of riding on the elephant's back, why not walk alongside it? you'd be surprised how many people will follow your lead.
let's all be responsible travelers. the elephant is an animal that helped build this wonderful country... we as travelers should respect that and even remind locals of their responsibility to these wonderful giants.
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