Everywhere we go in Thailand, from the north to the south and back to Bangkok we encounter elephants and mahouts from Moo Baan Chang (the elephant village) Ban Ta Klang, Surin.
At the King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament last year in Bangkok, the elephant village mahout elders pictured below and some thirty elephants came from Moo Baan Chang. I guess it goes without saying that the taller guy is not a mahout though may qualify as an elder.
Recently, we had a group from The Learning Link and The Elephant Story in Moo Baan Chang to organize the first native English speaker language program in the village. The “city slicker” Thai educators were amazed that each dwelling in the village had one or more elephants. They were advised to be very careful where they walked around the village at night. In fact, the village is the heart of the elephant culture of Thailand.
Since the mother and babies have little contact with the frenzy of the outside world, the babies do not feel threatened by and actually enjoy cuddling with strangers from the big city of Bangkok.
Teachers from both the primary and secondary schools all joined for lunch to discuss their progress in developing the educational programs for the village with their visitors.
We learned some interesting statistics about Moo Baan Chang. As the name suggests, it is home to over 200 elephants. Moreover, the village is also home to the Salangam family clan as 80% of the villagers have that surname. It is like being a Kennedy in U.S. politics or a Rockefeller in the banking world. There are 120 students in the primary school and 275 in the secondary school, a remarkably high ratio of elephants to students. Can you believe living in a town where the kids have elephants rather than dogs?
The English language program funded by The Elephant Story through your purchases of our products will be offered to all of these students. In addition, Citi will offer a fiscal responsibility course to the mahouts and their families. Our joint mission together through the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation is to improve the lives of the mahout families and, in turn, their elephants.