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Elephant Gifts

Elephants are large land mammals in two genera of the family Elephantidae: Elephas and Loxodonta. Three species of elephant are living today: the African Bush Elephant, the African Forest Elephant and the Asian Elephant (also known as the Indian Elephant). The elephant has appeared in cultures across the world. They are a symbol of wisdom in Asian cultures and are famed for their memory and intelligence.

African elephants are distinguished from Asian elephants in several ways, the most noticeable being their much larger ears. In addition, the African elephant is typically larger than the Asian elephant and has a concave back. In Asian elephants only males have tusks, but both males and females of African elephants have tusks and are usually less hairy than their Asian cousins.

Elephants on Elephant Island

Elephants are found in abundance on the Island of Koh Chang in the South East region of Thailand. Elephants on an island? Funny I know. People often wonder how the elephants got there and why they aren't out in the jungle somewhere roaming around and having fun. The truth is that the elephants living on Koh Chang are actually enjoying the jungle and being taken care of.

There are a lot of different places you can go to ride on elephants on Koh Chang. Most often travellers are taken to an Elephant Training Camp to see, ride on and even go swimming with them. Elephants are living on Koh Chang because quite a few of the elephants were involved in public service and deserve to be retired. Elephants are used to clean the streets of Thailand in alot of places and it's not rare to hear that they are being underfed, mistreated and overall unwanted. However, the strength of the animal renders them invaluable in building and hauling so they are kept for working puropses.

Every tour office will offer excursions with just a trip out to the elephants or a trip that includes some time on the big grey animals. It's not really all that over priced when you think about the costs involved in the day to day upkeep and the cost of the trainer assigned to each elephant. To ride an elephant for a one hour trek through the jungle and go swimming with the elephant for about 40 minutes costs about 1000 Baht ($33USD)per person so take your swimsuit and literally dive in the water with the elephants.

The trek and swimming can be done in other places than on Koh Chang but It's a personal favourite at Ban Chang Mai Training Camp. The staff are really friendly and are happy just to talk to you about the elephants and express real joy when you actually show an interest not just on riding one but in helping to feed them with banana leaves and purchasing the bananas that are available at the little hut off to the side. The young men are interested in showing off their elephants and having them do tricks for you. It's great to see a huge elephant dancing around and posing for pictures. It's also touching when an elephant gives you a kiss with the end of its trunk. Sorry guys but I think it's a trick for the ladies.

The souvenir shop offers the chance to buy postcards and pictures of the elephants at their best. Additionally, local art and jewellery are availablefor purchase so don't be shy about taking a little extra cash.

What's that thing with the big ears, grey in colour, long trunk? An elephant of course.

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