E-Wong's a bit of a mystery, she was recently bought by her mahout and so is the one elephant where he cannot tell us anything except the dubious information always provided by an ele-seller; one careful owner, only used on Sunday mornings to go to church - that sort of thing! She is microchipped so we do know she's a legitimate domestic Thai elephant.
Things we do know:
Her name doesn't mean beautiful in Karen - this was claimed at purchase but is strenuously denied by our Galieng contingent.
She has a very rough and almost disfigured trunk resulting, we surmise, from a hard life in the logging camps.
She has one white eye, possibly caused by malnutrition at an earlier stage, through which she cannot see properly.
Her feet have been poorly cared for and are splayed, perhaps another sign of a hard logging life.
Her official age is in the mid thirties, but she tops this page as we think she's probably closer to ten years older than that. However we believe that age is how you feel and not what it says on your birth certificate, now that she's settled in with us she's a relaxed and happy elephant who doesn't bother with tricks or the show stuff, just happy to be out of a tougher life.
Pang Boo See
Boo See's a Galieng elephant from the forests of Chiang Mai and around the Burmese border, again no-one seems to know what her name means but we figure it may be a mis-pronounciation of a Thai name, Boun See - which would convey perfection.
One thing we do know is she chose it herself; in an ancient naming ceremony Galieng elephants of this age (mid-thirties) were presented with six names, written on paper by an elder and wrapped around sugar cane. The paper she picks first is the name that sticks.
Boo See comes to us from a mixed forest life, a few spells illegally in Burma logging, some trekking in tourist camps around Chiang Mai and, in the un-employed times, just living in the village doing odd jobs, collecting firewood and the like - she has given birth three times but none of her calves have reached maturity.
She's a steady character and is unafraid of most things, she prefers humans who are not nervous of her and will do anything for someone who respects her without fear, her greatest joy when bathing is just to sit with her head under the water.
Boo See is cared for by K. Chain.
Plai Phu Ki (Tong Kam)
Phu Ki is our only working male elephant; a slender, tough tusker with a past he doesn't take part in mahout training but will give treks, VIP pick-ups, take guests up to the hilltop for sunset and, increasingly, represent us in local parades and temple ceremonies where the presence of an elephant used to be necessary - a tradition recently dropped due to lack of available elephants.
Although handsome he found himself out of work after a Burmese logging accident injured his front legs and left him with a perceptible limp.
He grew up on the Thai side of the border around Chiang Mai but crossed regularly, during times of low work or crack down on his illegal job he was let free into the forest but always re-caught - after the injury his owners decided he may not be able to fend for himself in the rapidly dissappearing Burmese jungle and so sought easy employment for him.
Phu Ki is just his nickname, his real name being Tong Kam, and he's in his early thirties, he has fathered at least seven babies in this time - a function of the twinkle in his eye and the commitment, or lack thereof, a male elephant shows to his offspring!
He is cared for by K. Bat.
Beau is a Surin elephant from the communities North East of Bangkok and is our only elephant with a French name, despite the masculinity of which she is feminine.
In her early days she walked around Thailand, didn't spend too much time in Bangkok but has allegedly covered all towns from the deep South to the Golden Triangle, all on foot - as a result she must have a unique insight into Thai life, walking slowly, as the older elephants who can't hold down a Bangkok begging beat do, camping in temples and cremation halls, grabbing food from grass verges and offerings from villagers.
She, nonethless, kept part of the grapevine and was frequently picked up for parade work thanks to her calm nature before ending up walking the highways and byways again.
She was reluctant to come in from the streets this time having been previously rescued once but finding the whisky culture in that centre not to her taste - her mahout, Noi, preferring the family atmosphere of our camp.
Pang Boun Na
Pang Boun Na was our first real Karen elephant, the majority of historical logging work in Burma and the North of Thailand - at least in the British written histories - was performed by elephants and mahouts from the Karen tribes. So we introduce another language into camp!
Boun Na, is in her late-twenties and has had four calves in her time, two of which died due to the neglect of a previous mahout and two have survived one working in a tourist camp in Chiang Mai whilst the other holds court at the Elephant Nature Park where he is adored by all.
Although a breeding and tourist camp elephant for a long while she has also spent some time as an illegal immigrant worker, logging in the Burmese forests, before she was rented by a Japanese family in Chiang Mai to produce and raise one calf - the calf is still with them.
Perhaps unsurprisingly given her past career as a working elephant and a mother she is the most serious of the elephants, keeping herself to herself and not playing the tricks that the others get up to - luxuriating in unlimited tall grass and enjoying the long baths but not spraying all in sight.
Not a great fan of our buffalo or new experiences without friends, Boun Na is happiest surrounded by a group of like thinking elephants - luckily this is exactly where she finds herself. Unashamedly the fattest of our eles we do have to keep reminding ourselves that she's not pregnant, her behaviour around the babies, though, reveals she might be broody.
Boun Na is cared for by Khun Wit.
For every camp there must be a superstar, a bit of a diva, a bit of a play girl, for ours we have Jenny - much tagged on Facebook and known to the international press as the Formula 1 elephant for her speed across the pitch.
Jenny's still in her teens, we first met her as a street elephant in 2005 - before the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation was fully operational - when she came to Chiang Saen as a street walker, we went and said hello to her mahout (who went on to become our own K. Sompong, Nong Pleum's mahout) and had to let her go.
Come December 2007 we needed a new ele to help us with the mahout training and we learned she was unhappy in a trekking camp in Hua Hin, no food, fodder, guests and too much whisky and made the call.
Amongst our guests she's known for her playful behaviour and for being a bit of a handful when it comes to bathing time - I think it is fair to say that all of our guests get wet, Jenny's just seem to get wetter!
Jenny is cared for by K. Jaa
Anantara and the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre
From the very beginning Anantara Resort Golden Triangle has worked closely with the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre (TECC) to ensure that the activities in camp were safe and that our treatment of the elephants exceeded the national (now international) standards of ideal care.
To do this we set up the programme using four elephants from the TECC's professional mahout training school in Lampang we agreed to cover all costs of the elephants and their mahouts as well as a few extra bonuses for the mahouts (and lots & lots of food for the eles).
We would also give the mahouts exposure to international guests, giving them experience to take back to Lampang and expand their growing guest experience programme.
Over the years we have also proven that with imaginative activities, some hard work in advertising and public relations, it is possible for four elephants to provide a very good life for themselves and for their mahouts without resorting to dangerous or demeaning work and without leaving what would be their natural habitat.
The Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation did not contribute to the up-keep of these elephants as they were able to work and this enables them to provide their own living, any shortfall in either their upkeep or the monthly fee to the TECC was covered by Anantara Resort Golden Triangle.
Our debt to these elephants is that they started the camp. The Foundation could not exist without the work they have put in with us from the beginning.
The T.E.C.C. elephants went back to Lampang with our best wishes for the
future in March '07