In August 2021, our organization, led by founder Lek Chailert, received a distress call from an ailing elephant camp owner. His business was reeling under the devastating impact of COVID-19, and he could no longer provide for all his elephants. A mother and her infant were in dire straits, and he was seeking help for their rescue.
Resources were stretched thin in the challenging times brought on by the pandemic. The camp owner faced an agonizing decision — to part ways with some elephants to afford the necessary sustenance for the remaining ones.
Among those chosen to be relocated were a young mother elephant and her calf. The decision was primarily driven by his concern for the calf’s health, as the newborn seemed underweight, lethargic, and exhibited unusual behavior.
Bunma, a 16-year-old mother elephant, was having a tough time tending to her newborn without any support from the herd. Her calf, Chaba, born in May of the same year, showed deteriorating health.
Bunma, previously a performer in the camp’s elephant show, was now confined to a small kennel with her baby, clearly stressed out from her new circumstances.
Thanks to Noelle Weiss’ generous support, our Elephant Nature Park team intervened, plotting a quick rescue plan for Bunma and Chaba.
By rearranging living spaces, our diligent team accommodated the new arrivals within two days, paving the way for their much-anticipated freedom.
Initially, we aimed to transport Bunma and Chaba by truck, but Bunma’s stress levels led us to alter our approach.
The pair embarked on a walking journey to their new home. Despite her initial fear of cars, Bunma made it to the park unscathed.
On August 12th, 2021, coinciding with Thai Mother’s Day and World Elephant Day, Bunma and Chaba celebrated the start of their new lives at Elephant Nature Park. Their chains were finally removed, and they found comfort in a safe, monitored space.
While Chaba’s underweight condition and Bunma’s inadequate milk production pose a challenge, we have initiated a rapid recovery program.
In their forever home, the two elephants are starting to thrive — Bunma has begun nursing Chaba, and the little one is gaining confidence, evident in her playful interaction with water.
We’re grateful to Noelle Weiss and all contributors aiding their ongoing care. Their new lives are a testament to the power of collective effort.
The joyous welcome of baby Pyi Mai to Chaba highlights the warmth that awaits them in their new sanctuary. We eagerly anticipate the mother regaining her health, ending this journey from despair to hope.