Most of Thailand’s elephants live in captivity, offering rides and photo ops to tourists. But with the industry hit by the pandemic, some are now settling into a new life on a Chiang Mai nature reserve. Thailand: The elephant rescuer of Chiang Mai Thailand has a total population of 5,000 elephants. But of that number, 3,000 live in captivity, carrying tourists on their backs and offering photo opportunities made for social media. With the corona crisis, tourism revenues have plummeted, and those who make a living from elephants’ tourism appeal are struggling even to cover their costs. A single elephant needs up to 250 kilograms (551 pounds) of food a day, costing around €25 ($29.50). That’s where Lek Chailert steps in. She’s buying up elephants and rehousing them at the Elephant Nature Park reserve in Chiang Mai. To provide and care for them properly, she founded the Save Elephant Foundation. An elephant usually sells for around 2 million baht — about €54,000, or $64,000 — with young animals fetching the highest prices. But since their income from tourism has dried up, plenty of owners are ready to sell their animals for less. Chailert paid just 7 million bhat for […]

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