Elephants are magnificent animals worthy of all our respect. But given the widespread nature of poaching, habitat loss, and elephant-riding, it seems like they’re not being given that respect as much as they should.
Indeed, both Asian and African elephants face threats in some way, shape, or form. The African elephant is hunted for its ivory, and the Asian elephant is often abused and kept in tourist sites for people to ride. It’s not quite the life that a magnificent herbivore and keystone species should be living.
This is the story of Me-Bai, a young female Asian elephant who was sold into the elephant-ride trade.
Me-Bai was born to her mother Mae Yui in Thailand. She had all of three and a half years to live as a calf with her mother before they were separated. Me-Bai was sold off to give rides to tourists, seemingly never to meet her mom again.
“Because she was too young, she began to lose weight and could not carry the tourists any longer,” – wrote Elephant Nature Park
It’s a good thing then that she was eventually removed from the elephant riding business and taken to a sanctuary.
That’s where Elephant Nature Park comes in. They took in the young Me-Bai and let her live a more peaceful life. Elephants should be roaming and eating, not forced to carry snobby, rich people on their backs.
The Asian Elephant, Elephas maximus, is an endangered species. It’s the sole surviving member of the genus Elephas, and is an important keystone species. Makes it all the more frustrating that capturing of elephants for tourism activities and ivory are still a thing.
Thailand is unique in being the country with the most captive elephants used in tourism.
Not anything to be bragging about, that goes without saying. Owing to their brainpower, elephants have the capacity to feel depression too. They are highly social animals and can be completely aware of the neglect and abuse they face.
This goes for both Asian and African elephants. They are the three (the African elephant is two species) remaining members of the elephant family. Shouldn’t we be treating them a lot better?
Me-Bai was fortunate to have found a sanctuary to stay at. Little did the elephant know, she had another pleasant surprise coming along.
As luck would have it, her mother Mae Yui wasn’t too far from the sanctuary.
Mae Yui was also being used as a tourist ride, and so the sanctuary staff reached out to have the mom surrendered to them.
It went well, and Me-Bai’s mother was coming to live at the same sanctuary.
The reunion 3 years in the making was finally a reality, and Mae Yui saw her calf again at Elephant Nature Park’s sanctuary.
It’s hard to confirm if the two truly remember each other. Elephants are smart and probably can remember family, but unless we can ask the elephants ourselves, there’s no way to be 100% certain.
Judging from the flapping of the ears and how much they’re sticking together, I’d say they’re pretty happy. Elephants are, after all, pretty brainy animals. May this mother-daughter pair live the happiest lives that an elephant can live.
And may more elephants live just as peacefully and happily. With Asian elephants having a lifespan of nearly 50 years, there’s still plenty of time to catch up and enjoy life for these two. Of course, we’d better take care of the planet the ecosystems they live in too.
Everyone needs to see an elephant family on their feed sooner or later.
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