We (a party of two) have just returned from a trek in the Khoa Sok national park in Thailand.
The first portion of the trek included an elephant experience. We expected to maybe have a short ride on an elephant, then feed them... etc etc.
What we instead found was this: Arriving at the elephant "sanctuary" we were plonked on top of a random elephant. The elephant was then shouted at continually to get it to move. We realized very quickly that these elephants were not being treated properly, but before we could say anything we were on a very thin stream/ path on top of an elephant followed by a vicious little Thai man carrying a machete.
The man continued to shout at the elephant, when the elephant slowed down the man smacked and prodded with the machete the elephant to get it to move again. There were numerous instances when the elephant made loud noises directly after being hit or prodded with the machete.
We didn't ourselves feel comfortable looking at the so called guide as every time we did we received a stoney glare as if to say "yes, what?!".
The trek itself didn't to us seem suitable for an elephant to climb up: A rocky thin stream littered with bits of rubbish and plastic pipe.
At one point the man/ guide came to the side of the elephant, shouted some more, then pointed his machete at the eye of the elephant. When the elephant did not respond he stabbed it a little in the side of the head.
After around 20 mins we reached the top of the stream, were told to get off and walk ahead by our selves for 10minutes. We did so only to hear the man shouting at the elephant lots (presumably to turn it around for the walk back down).
On the return leg of the "trek" the man had picked up a 1.5m long bit of rigid white pipe and basically whipped the elephant with it the entire way down.
I noticed at the end of the ride the end of the white pipe had become split and broken from excessive force. The pipe to me looked like 50mm waste pipe typically found in UK bathrooms.
When we returned to the "camp" where there were around 10-15 more elephants all chained up to trees and not able to walk we dismounted the elephant and left.
We were so outraged and gobsmacked by the whole ordeal and felt we had to report the company but after some searching could not find anywhere to do so, thus we are writing to you.
We have 3 videos of the trip and plenty of photos.
We have reported this to PETA and a national trust in Thaland. We have no idea what use it will do. But avoid this operator:
Khaosok Discovery Co., Ltd.
11/36 Moo 5, Chalong, Muang, Phuket, Thailand 83130
Tel. 076-521-857 Fax. 076-521-858