Elephant freedom project SCAM - tricks and lies
This is a very short summary of our BAD experience at Elephant Freedom Project (www.volunteersatwork.org) see the description for more detailed explanation.
tl;dr; - avoid this place and better go to national park if you want to see elephants that are actually free. You won't be able to see or experience anything like in this video that they advertise: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qRCzLC-qhU (seems that they already taken down the video)
1. Because of some issues with bringing an elephant to their place they took us see how paper is made out of elephant poop https://youtu.be/CgEEVYss-TE - what we actually saw was a very well rehearsed scenario which followed by the stop in their shop so we would buy what they produce, just don't see anything in common to elephants and their freedom and how that servers elephants for better
2. We were also asked to "prepare food for elephants" https://youtu.be/CgEEVYss-TE?t=8s - this was some kind of joke that none of us understood - slice half of pumpkin and one cabbage, like it has anything to do with the food preparation for elephants. Probably the idea is to provide of voluntary experience but the result is "touristy" at very least.
3. Just to get an idea of how "much" food we prepared - https://youtu.be/CgEEVYss-TE?t=1m11s
4. https://youtu.be/CgEEVYss-TE?t=1m16s - this is where we first met elephant - some place on the public street, she was just taken from her owner probably
5. https://youtu.be/CgEEVYss-TE?t=1m41s - probably one of very few things that elephant did on her own, without any commands, doing what she actually wants (that's what I would call freedom). As soon as she starts eating leafs mahout yells at her and she probably starts peeing from fear
6. https://youtu.be/CgEEVYss-TE?t=1m51s - this is how "walk with the elephant" looks like - she was guided in some random place further from main street. We were standing there for about an hour and watching "the daily walk ritual"... compared to other things I think this was also nice thing for her because she was able to scratch her along the tree and such but still it felt like a zoo parody and nothing "freedomish" about it...
7. https://youtu.be/CgEEVYss-TE?t=2m21s - she was commanded to go into place so we could feed the food that we prepared
8. https://youtu.be/CgEEVYss-TE?t=2m39s - lead by mahout with pole & hook present at all times, so she doesn't forget and is aware of it at all times
9. https://youtu.be/CgEEVYss-TE?t=2m49s - mahout sitting on her head (no respect)
10. https://youtu.be/CgEEVYss-TE?t=2m55s - mahout leaning on the elephant (no respect)
11. https://youtu.be/CgEEVYss-TE?t=3m05s - mahout commanding her to to get up, later guiding her with the stick by hitting her with the hook to turn around and lastly giving command to lie down again. Please notice that she lies again on the same side as she was lying before - this is after we "scrubbed her side". When we asked if we shouldn't be scrubbing the other side now so that she is clean, we got answer that it is ok, she will be scrubbed another day and we can continue scrubbing her side that we already scrubbed. I don't know what else if not parody this could be called...
12. https://youtu.be/CgEEVYss-TE?t=5m25s - she is given command once again to get up. She doesn't listen the first time, so the command is repeated, later mahout comes closer and repeats command one more time. She is stopped midway getting up so we - tourists could scrub her other side... Everyone could see how uncomfortable she was in that position.
Unfortunately I didn't take video of how we were "cleaning" elephant enclosures - we were asked to move poop and dried leafs from one pile to another without clear explanation of the reasons to do that at all, that just felt that we were doing that just so we could pretend that we actually did something good...
Also I don't have videos of our last "walk with elephant" - after her "bath" in the river we were going on the main street when suddenly made a turn at a random intersection and ended up in a random place (probably guides didn't bother to spend more time walking in some better place?)
All in all we really regret that we had all this experience, we wanted to actually be helpful to people who are doing something good for elephants and we actually ended up in the place that pretends to do so.
We don't see how this place is any different from other elephant places apart from the fact that they don't offer to ride on the elephants.
I hope people in the future will find this video helpful and will avoid supporting such scam as Elephant freedom project.
If you really want to see elephants free and happy I would strongly advise to visit one of national parks where you can see hundreds of elephants who are in fact FREE and can do whatever they want.