After her homecoming on March 11, 2016, she was listed as aged 65 with a temperament as slow, easy-going. She enjoys the company of both her kind and humans. She was described with tall, well-rounded back. long head, and round top. She also have large tail hairs and slight pigmentation on her trunk and face.
She was then a returning elephant, earlier reclaimed by the former owner six years ago for the trekking camp in Kanchanaburi.
That time, she was officially considered freed, and retired from logging and trekking.
Her name was Nam Phon.
Her caretakers at the Wildlife Friends Foundation of Thailand Elephant Refuge knew her very well.
She was known to have been born in the wild in 1950’s when Thailand has an elephant population of over 50,000. Captured as a young calf, then sold into the logging industry, she was believed to have given birth to her own calves which suffered the same fate as her.
When Thailand banned commercial logging in 1980s, the elephants were freed from the logging industry and left to fend for themselves, walk long days in streets and beg for food.
As tourism experienced a boom in the country, elephant rides became on demand which put back many of the idled animals to work.
Nam Phon spent over 30 years of her life moving from camp to camp for tourist rides.
Too old to serve for rides, that was why in March she was returned to the foundation.
Nam Phon’s friends in the foundation remember her with these very kind words:
Her trusting nature and calm demeanor enlightened the lives of many. She inspired us and the many people who met her to strive for a better future for over 3000 elephants that still languish in captive environments throughout Thailand.
She gave us hope to continue to fight for their freedom, the years of abuse she had endured never dulled her light. She experienced more freedom on last few months of her life than ever before. She wandered the forests around the WFFT Elephant Refuge freely, doing as she pleased, like a big diva, often ignoring the commands of her caring mahout Aek.
After years of abuse at the hands of humans you are now free old girl. You will be remembered as much a victim of the captive elephant industry, as you are a shining beacon of hope for the many other elephants still in need of help. She has left this world and moved to another, her spirit is now free.
Nam Phon passed away on Saturday, Jan 7, 2017 with a heartfelt, sentimental send-off gathering from friends. RIP.
BONUS- Video of elephant hauiing logs
Small logs, what about the one below?
H/T- Info and photos by Wildlife Friends Foundation of Thailand Elephant Refuge. The foundation is always reaching out for donations from caring organizations and individuals for support.