Yesterday we welcomed a very special new resident in the form of ‘Gan Da’ (Darling) the female Asian elephant. Gan Da is approximately 40 years old, she has spent most of her life in the trekking industry, she is now safe and permanently retired at the WFFT Elephant Refuge. She joined us from a camp in Northern Thailand. After the long journey from the North of Thailand, Gan Da was very happy to get off the truck and stretch her legs.

Thailand has seen a growth in the elephant-tourism industry in recent years, with the number of tourists increasing every year. The industry must change and provide ethical options for the 1000’s of captive elephants languishing in cruel tourist camps.

Thailand currently has a captive population of over 3500 individuals and a wild population of approximately 3200. Captive elephants are still listed under the Draught Animals Act of 1939, this Act gives them little protection. However, in recent years the laws to protect captive elephants are strengthening with a nationwide DNA Registration System composed of all captive elephants. This aims to eradiate the illegal poaching and the trafficking of wild elephant calves into the tourism industry, and closes loopholes within the previous law. Thailand’s wild elephants, in contrast, are protected under the Wild Animal Reservation and Protection Act 1992 (WARPA), within which anyone caught hunting, killing or trading in wild elephants or parts are held liable to fines or jail sentences.

Gan Da has spent her first day of freedom, chain free, munching away on an array of treats, adjusting to her new life. We send a huge thank you to Joan and co. in Sydney, Australia for sponsoring the rescue of Gan Da!!! No more rides, no more hooks, no more chains, you are free old girl. We will keep you posted on updates when she meets other members of the the WFFT herd.