The National Elephant Institute was founded as the Thai Elephant Conservation Center (TECC) in 1993. Subsequently in January 2002, in order to enlarge the scope of conservation efforts and address the issues facing Thailand's elephants, it was proposed that the TECC be renamed the National Elephant Institute.
The main objective for the establishment of the National Elephant Institute is to develop elephant conservation in a sustainable way and preserve local traditions for future generations. The Institute also aims to improve the tourism business, in which there is an extensive involvement of elephants in tourism-related activities, for the benefit of elephants as well as tourists.
The Institute is home to the world's first training school for mahouts and imparts knowledge to elephant keepers and aspirants, both Thais and foreigners, on the correct way to care for their animals, provide basic health care and train young elephants.
The school also advises private owners on their husbandry and management systems, and promotes tourism among those interested in experiencing the lives of the mahouts and elephants firsthand in a natural environment.
Upon completion of the course, participants will receive a certificate issued by the National Elephant Institute.
Besides, the Institute offers a homestay program in the mahout village and welcomes tourists who are interested in studying and experiencing the life of a mahout and his elephant.
Visitors participating in the program share the same house as the mahout, participate in the daily activities of the mahout, and join in various communal activities.
The day begins with the elephant being escorted out into the woods in the morning. This is followed by a session on the basics of riding an elephant and the issue of commands to the elephant. The program also provides an opportunity for participants to exchange experiences with English-speaking staff who are familiar with elephants and mahouts.
In the evenings, the elephant is once again escorted back into the woods for the night. Participants will also try their hand at preparing local dishes, dine northern Thai-style, and listen to local music played by the mahouts.
Homestay facilities are also open to tourists who do not wish to participate in the homestay program, but only wish to stay overnight at the Institute.
For more information, please contact:
National Elephant Institute (NEI) Office
26 Tha Ma-oo Road
Tambon Wiang Neua
Amphur Muang Lampang
Lampang 52000, Thailand
Web site: www.thailandelephant.org