CityiNews – 1st April 2020, Due to the current global Covid-19 crises where many countries are on lock-down and individuals and families are being told to maintain social distance, avoid travel or even leaving their own homes; elephant sanctuaries are being hit very hard by the lack of income.
With the huge drop in tourist numbers and associated funds coming in these sanctuaries are struggling to feed and care for their dearly beloved animals. They are now in a crisis and the creatures’ welfare is at risk. Sadly, elephant casualties are likely to occur if something is not done.
Trunk works with several sanctuaries across Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and India where they focus ethical tourism around these fantastic creatures that positively benefits the elephants, their carers and the communities around them.
They have created a virtual “date with an elephant” campaign where people can book to have a private 30min date with elephants at some of these sanctuaries. Through a virtual trip visitors will learn about trunk, the sanctuaries and how they care for the elephants, they will meet and “virtually” feed the elephants and have interactive games and learning quizzes to help educate and find out more about these amazing places.
Since the launch the tours have proven to be an instant hit around the world. Individuals and families who are in isolation are enjoying this unique virtual experience and having some enjoyment in this very uncertain time.
COO of trunk, Lucy Field, has seen the impact already “it is amazing to see the benefits this is having on the sanctuaries and the welfare of the elephants, one 30min session is enough to feed one elephant for a full day. The families are loving the experience which is both educational and fun. I can see this changing the landscape of animal tourism and how we can interact with these creatures without damaging the environment further. We have had some people enjoy their date who have informed us that they are unlikely to have ever been able to afford to come out here, so it’s great to know we have given them this one to one unique time with these wonderful animals. Furthermore, given there is no international air travel, the impact on the environment is virtually zero.”
During the virtual date visitors get to meet the trunk team and the elephant carers (mahouts). They get to meet all the elephants, choose what food to feed them, guess the elephants ages and find out other interesting facts about the sanctuary and these magnificent creatures.
Maaike VanVeen booked a date for her family from Holland “My children are all off school due to school closures and we are running out of things to do already. I saw this come up on Facebook and I thought what a fantastic idea! We can do something fun together as a family and know we are benefiting these creatures and helping them to be cared for. The date was so much fun, my children learnt loads and the trunk team’s enthusiasm and work they do is very inspiring. I would highly recommend it to anyone. Money is tight now but knowing it is going to a good cause makes it so worthwhile.”
Trunk is working with other communities and sanctuaries to help this initiative and idea grow so other elephants and mahouts can benefit and receive the funding they need to continue to care for their animals.
John Roberts from Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation (Helping Elephants Organisation) was contacted by trunk; “We run one of the largest elephant camps out here in Chang Rai, Thailand and see what Trunk are doing. We applaud them for thinking outside the box in this global crisis. We need some positivity at this scary time and this has helped the elephants immensely already, I like especially they are helping elephants that not their own rather than offsetting their own costs. I can see this taking off around the globe and benefiting all other sanctuaries, not just elephants, but all animals. We all need to come together to make sure we can still support and care for one another, thanks to Trunk there is another piece positive light and the end of this tunnel”
If you are interested to find out more and want to book this unique date with an elephant please visit the trunk Facebook page – www.facebook.com/trunktravel
Booking link here
Please spread the word so sanctuaries and animals around the globe can benefit during this turbulent time.