SAPPRAIWAN'S ELEPHANTS & MAHOUTS

The occupation of mahouts dates back many centuries and is still practiced today. When Asia, specifically Southeast Asia was developing, the landscape was hilly and covered with thick jungle. This made it difficult to traverse the land, however, elephants had little trouble moving about. Hence it began humans captured wild elephants to fight in battles then later for the logging industry. The mahouts trained the elephants and made them an integral part of the family.

 

This led to a tradition involving captive elephants and the people who care for them. A mahout is a person who devotes their entire life caring for an elephant. Today it is common to find mahouts who come from second or third generation mahout families as is the case with our mahouts.

 

Our mahouts have a special bond with each elephant based on trust, respect, and understanding. It is awe-inspiring to observe the complex communication and gentle interaction between the two. We are fortunate to have mahouts who care deeply for the welfare of our elephants, while sharing, teaching and bringing our guests into this special world.
 

Meet the Family

Sribua 

Sribua, in the Thai language, means ‘beautiful lotus’, and indeed she is a beautiful 38-year-old elephant inside and out. When we rescued Sribua in November of 2018, she was working at an elephant "taxi" camp near Chonburi giving rides to tourists.

Although we do not have evidence tracing her full life story, we learned that  Sribua was most likely a logging elephant when she was young and her leg was injured from the logging work. The injury caused her leg to not grow straight and now she walks with a limp. She was transferred from owner to owner, from logging to tourism. Sribua worked in many different camps which offered tourists rides on iron made chairs fastened to her back.

Sangdao

Pramuan's passion for elephants began when he was a young boy, watching his father go into the forest every day with their family's elephant. Being a mahout is more than a job in Thai culture, it is a lifestyle and a tradition that is passed down through generations. Pramuam says he wouldn't want to do anything else with his life, and this is apparent to anyone who sees him around the herd of elephants at Sappraiwan.

Boonlai 

After logging with many different elephants in his home province of Mae Hong Son, Prasong sought a stable job where he could earn a living while still working with the animals he loves. He says he prefers the pace of work at Sappraiwan Elephant Sanctuary and especially enjoys work at the sanctuary because of the interactions he has with people from other countries. He usually has as many questions about our visitors as they have about the elephants! Hard-working and easy-going, Prasong is a fantastic mahout and team member.

Koon 

The name Koon, in Thai, refers to the beautiful yellow-flowered tree found in Thailand. Koon is approximately 50 years old and comes from an elephant tourist camp. She was made to give taxi rides and perform for pay. Her body shows the strain she has endured with swollen calluses on her leg, which is most likely the result of getting up and down on concrete, being irritated and never having a chance to heal. Koon loves to play in the water. We were surprised when she first entered the lake. She started splashing her trunk, happily falling over, submerging with only her truck sticking out.

Gumrai

40 years young with the most beautiful eyelashes, Gumrai has worked all of her life in the logging and entertainment industries. After rescuing Gumrai we found she has a digestion problem and is anemic. She is now on a special diet and medications to help her recover fully. It is too soon to tell her personality but in just a few short days, she has enjoyed walking freely in the jungle and is eating lots of bananas.

Roy-Ngern.  

Roy-Ngern, whose name means 'Rich in Money' is the last generation of elephants caught from the jungles, at a time where there were many wild elephants in Southeast Asia. She is 40 years old, weighs 3 tons, and is originally from Myanmar.

Like other elephants in our sanctuary, Roy-Ngern was a logging elephant before she was sent to work at an elephant tourist camp. Now at Sappraiwan, she can live the rest of her life free from work, trekking among at Sappriawan.

Thong Kham. Cares for Sribua

As is usual in the mahout tradition, mahouts are part of a large extended family community located in Thailand’s Northern region of Mae Hong Son province. Mae Hong Son is where elephants play a large role in the culture. In this case, Thong Kham joins his relatives at Sappraiwan: Khun Pramuan and Khun Song.


Thong Kham is in his late twenties and although he has lots of energy for work and play, people describe him as an easy-going person, kind and gentle. He use to work in Suratthani provide in the south of Thailand where he kayaked, trekked and biked. He is an avid rattan ball and football player.

Pramuan. Cares for Sangdao

Pramuan's passion for elephants began when he was a young boy, watching his father go into the forest every day with their family's elephant. Being a mahout is more than a job in Thai culture, it is a lifestyle and a tradition that is passed down through generations. Pramuam says he wouldn't want to do anything else with his life, and this is apparent to anyone who sees him around the herd of elephants at Sappraiwan.

Prasong. Cares for Boonlai

After logging with many different elephants in his home province of Mae Hong Son, Prasong sought a stable job where he could earn a living while still working with the animals he loves. He says he prefers the pace of work at Sappraiwan Elephant Sanctuary and especially enjoys work at the sanctuary because of the interactions he has with people from other countries. He usually has as many questions about our visitors as they have about the elephants! Hard-working and easy-going, Prasong is a fantastic mahout and team member.

Arporn. Cares for Koon

Previously a logging mahout in Mae Hong Son province, Arporn has been a strong leader and constant source of support to both the mahouts and elephants at Sappraiwan. Though he is quiet and reserved, those who take the time to ask him about his history with elephants stand to learn a great deal about the relationship that is possible between humans and elephants. Arporn is particularly skilled in managing bull elephants, and his experience and insight are essential to the sanctuary.

Song. Cares for Gumrai

Though Song is one of the youngest members of our mahout team, his dedication to this herd and this team make him invaluable. As is traditional for mahouts in Thailand, Song is learning how to manage elephants from his elders. It is a significant custom for experienced mahouts to pass their knowledge on to younger mahouts so their methods are preserved and carried on. Supported by his elders and friends, he is taking good care of Gumrai and we couldn't be happier with his seamless transition into the Sappraiwan family. Song is always up for anything that helps the mahouts and elephants - he's first to jump into the truck when heading out to chop banana trees, last to take a break while planting elephant grass, and is constantly singing throughout all of it! 

Charoen. Cares Rou-Ngern

Growing up in the province of Mae Hong Son, Charoen's family owned an elephant which he fondly remembers. He speaks of his passion for elephants from the experience of watching his father go into the forest every day with their elephant. Sometimes he would join his father feeding their elephant in the jungle, and this is how Charoen came to be a mahout.

When not tending to his elephant, Charoen uses his free time planting crops like papaya, banana, and lettuce, or maybe just watching YouTube. With his wife Siraporn, they have three children named: Sirirad, Warunee, and Thanutan.

Please note: all guests are covered by insurance

 

 MAILING ADDRESS

Sappraiwan Elephant Resort & Sanctuary

1/79 Moo 2 Kaengsopha, Wangthong 

Phitsanulok, Thailand 65220

GOOGLE MAPS ADDRESS

Sappraiwan Elephant Resort, Tambon Kaeng Sopha, Amphoe Wang Thong, Phitsanulok 65220


CONTACT

TEL:  +6681 533 7288 or +6655 293 293

E-MAIL: contact@sappraiwan.com

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LINE: Sappraiwan

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