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“Amazing experience!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Save Elephant Foundation - Surin Project

Save Elephant Foundation - Surin Project
Ta Klang Village | Tha Tum, Surin 32120, Thailand
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Ranked #1 of 11 Attractions in Surin
Type: Nature/ Wildlife Areas, Outdoors
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Owner description: This is a wonderful project that helps get street begging elephants out of the cities and back to a more natural setting where they can bond as family groups and wander without chains, whilst at the same time provides a sustainable source of income for the mahouts & their families
Ballarat
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“Amazing experience!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 17, 2013 via mobile

First of all, the Surin Project is not to be confused with the Surin sanctuary. The project is run within a larger community, working towards bettering the lives of elephants, but only 12 elephants are involved directly with the project.
Our week at the project started with an welcome ceremony and explanation of the situation at Surin. The staff were extremely welcoming and we felt at home right away. During the week you have ample opportuny to meet the elephants and their mahouts (caretakers) and are able to help with their daily jobs. The stay involves working with the mahouts, but the work load is extremely manageable and your comfort is a high priority.
The week was extremely rewarding- not only a great experience for us, but knowing that you're helping to make a difference for the elephants gives an amazing feeling.
I definitely plan to return, and encourage anybody to give this a go.
The food provided is delicious and the people you will meet will have you wishing you didn't have to leave.
What an experience. I can't recommend it enough.

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Montreal
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
“Surin elephant project”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 1, 2012

Where else can you hear elephants actually express the joy of being allowed to socialize and bathe with other elephants ? Where else would you get the chance to walk with elephants for hours and get to wash them in the local river accompanied by their mahouts ? Where else do you see and feel that by being there you have enabled these majestic, amazing animals to experience for a while their God given freedom ? This is a rare, life enriching experience, not always easy but totally worthwhile. recommended for those who want to learn, grow and give back to the elephants and to the local commuity

Visited June 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Melbourne
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“You can make a difference”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 27, 2012 via mobile

An absolutely amazing place and such an important project. It is so sad to see so many magnificent elephants on chains and used solely for tourist amusement. The Surin project gives a few of these elephants the opportunity to walk through jungle, have better food, are not subjected to rides or circus use and are generally given a better quality of life. Cannot recommend it more highly and urge everyone to support such an important cause. Help save the Asian elephant.

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Gympie
1 review
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“an experience that has a profound effect on one but is truly worthwhile”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 27, 2012

T o be part of a project that allows one to give back to an endangered animal and its mahout is very rewarding; not without the disc omfort of seeing some very challenging scenes but to experience the essence and resilience of such a magnificent animal is a privilege.One experiences the magic of seeing these elephants being in their preferred groups,swimming in water holes or ambling along a local road.,whilst observing the intimate relationship between mahout and each elephant

Visited February 2012
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bangkok, Krung Thep, Thailand
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
“Taking High School Students to Surin”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 21, 2012

Amazing! Please read our school's trip report.

On May 9-15, 2011, six British Columbia International School students went to volunteer for the Surin Project. We left Bangkok on May 9, meeting early at BCISB and traveling together to the Nakorn Chai Air bus station. We boarded the bus and headed to Buriram, the province next to Surin. We were picked up by a van from the Surin Project and headed to an open-air market in the town of Sutuk to buy large bags of cucumber to feed to the elephants. For some of our students, this was their first time in an open air, Thai market.
From there we headed to the Surin Project in the village of Baan Taklang, Surin. Baan Taklang has approximately 200 elephants. Baan Taklang has dirt roads and wooden houses. Students checked into their home stay and slept two to a room. The rooms were very basic with a bed, mosquito net and fan (no air con or TV). The bathroom was a bucket shower. After students got settled in, we went to a small covered area to have a welcome ceremony with the village holy man and the all the mahouts and their families. The students were blessed with prayers, holy water and strings tied around their wrists. It was a wonderful welcoming experience.
Then it was time to meet the elephants. There are a total of 11 elephants working on the Surin project. Two of them are less that 1 year old. The students were initially nervous around the elephants but over the week students became more comfortable learning behavioral patterns and personalities of each elephant. A main objective of the Surin Project is to get elephants off their chains. Each day we took the elephants for two long walks and a swim in the river or local pond. The students had many opportunities to observe the elephant’s behavior. When chained up, the elephants make repetitive actions such as swinging their heads or legs. This is a sign of stress and frustration. When off of their chains, the elephants are clearly happier. They not make the repetitive stress motions that they make when they are tied up. While walking, the project guides discussed interesting facts about the elephant’s biology. Being with the elephants all almost all day, every day drew a vast array of questions and curiosity from the students. It was almost hypnotic to join massive elephants as they happily walked along the paths eating plants and leaves and socializing with their friends. We learned that elephants are very social animals; they have friends and foes just like humans. According to program manager Alex Godfrey “an elephant in a zoo is only half an elephant”. Being that close with the elephants as they graced through the forest was an amazing privilege that few people will ever experience.
The elephants appeared to have the most fun playing in the water. Each day we had the opportunity to join the elephants as they played in the water. Elephants like to float and splash. The students who went in the water helped the mahouts splash water on the elephants and rub the elephant’s skin.
While walking with the elephants every day we had the opportunity to see some of the incredible countryside of Surin. Many of the farmers were in the process of putting their rice crop in. Students saw first hand the processes of preparing the fields and the first growth of rice. We understood the vast area of land that needs to be farmed by walking with the elephants through fields that were not yet planted. We applied some of our Social Studies course content on economies to what we were observing. The North –East region, where Surin is located, is the poorest economic region in Thailand. We discussed how Jasmine Rice, which is very popular in and outside of Thailand is the main crop of farmers in the region. These farmers only make 10-baht/ kilo for their rice crop. The farmers are already extremely poor and have little leverage to negotiate a better price.
While walking with the elephants we also observed the harsh environmental degradation in the area. Surin used to be a lush forest but has been almost completely converted to rice fields with little to no trees even in the boundary areas. A goal of the Surin project is to re-forest lands that are not used for farming to grow food for the elephants and to have forested areas for the elephants to walk in. Twice during our stay we took on the task of watering the 200+ bamboo plants that were planted throughout the forest area. We also dug holes in the hard soil so that more trees can be planted in the Baan Taklang village. On our last day we collected the seeds of the Jamjulee tree in the Surin Project plant nursery. These seeds will be used to plant Jamjulee trees, which are an important food for the elephants.
Besides exposure to a wealth of knowledge about elephants, economies and nature, we learned a number of important, self-confidence building, life skills. Our kitchen, where we cooked breakfast and one dinner, was very basic, consisting of two charcoal fire stoves and minimal equipment. We learned to make due with what we had and students came up with creative solutions. We learned how to safely light and use a charcoal fire stove and we practiced the more complicated task of controlling the heat while using charcoal. Every day we went out to sugar cane fields to cut food for the elephants. Students learned how to safety use the machete and how to properly cut the sugar cane so that the elephants will eat it. Students developed their social skills and English by talking and working with the foreign volunteers and the Project Manager. Through conversations with mahouts, students learned first hand about the needs of the elephants and the people of Surin.
We were all highly impressed by the hospitality of the people of Baan Taklang and of Surin. People of Baan Taklang were always inviting the students to eat and checking in to ensure they were doing well. Their genuine friendship and kindness was a refreshing change from the anonymity of the big city.
We were all sad to leave on the final morning. The Surin Project was an incredible learning experience for all involved. The week in Surin could not have been simulated in a classroom; it was an experience of a lifetime.

Visited May 2011
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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