|Asterism Travels & Tours - Myanmar||Elephant camps in Taungoo - trip reports|
Trip reports - An elephant camp in Taungoo
Elephant Camp - Taungoo
Elephant trainer or "Sinn Htain" as we called in Myanmar, and the workers of the timber extraction company build temporary shelters at the logging site. These shelters are used as workers' accommodation, equipment and accessories storage as well as an office.
These are normally made of woods and bamboo found in the forest. Much of the space inside are open (without proper walls) except a small place for the sleeping compartment. For a relatively short operation the shelters will be less elaborate. Kitchen is normally a simple area with roof to protect from the rain. Toilets are usually outside of the shelters.
If the logging operations are supposed to be a long term (many years) the shelter will become a permanent place for elephants and their trainers/workers.
How to go there
At first someone in Yangon or Taungoo need to search the current location of the camp. They can check with the timber department or extraction company in Yangon or Taungoo. Then when the travel dates are set permit to enter and stay overnight (if required) are to be obtained from the respective company. Truck could be arranged in Taungoo to go as far as possible into the forest. Then tourists need to walk to the camp.
Since they are the real work sites and not set up purposely for the tourists, they lack facilities to entertain foreign tourists and visitors. They do not have proper clean toilets, a decent place to sleep, persons who can explain in English. Foreigners can ride the elephant but without a proper chair to sit.
However this does not stop the desire of some foreign elephant lovers. Little by little, these elephant sites are becoming open to the forgien visitors. Guide, transport truck, food and bedding accessories are obtained in nearby Taungoo town.
To protect (is it possible?) these camps from becoming a un-controlled market place for elephant shows is the job of everyone. The agencies who send tourists there should cooperate each other along with camp owners, workers as well as visitors. They should select the places so as not to disturb the normal operation and the life of elephants and their workers. The number of tourists may have to be limited. Some kind of network may need to be set up to share the information.
Tourists should also do not bring something (physical and mental) that will change the life of living things in the negative way. Materials such as expensive imported comestic, alcohol, foreign brand consumer products, food and drink that are not natural and not made in Myanmar, environmentally un-friendly things such as plastic packages, and so on should not be brought in.
There are good things tourists can do. Education in any form such as method to build a clean toilet using local materials, cleanliness and health tips, methods to carry heavy objects so workers do not break their body are examples. Also local people can learn about relationship between forest and the environment.