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Introducing the Anantara Locals at Anantara Resort Golden Triangle
01 Apr 2007
They all love their morning bath, rarely sleep more than four hours per night and spend most of the day eating. And why wouldn't they when there is a plentiful supply of sugarcane, bananas and juicy young bamboo tips for them - a regular three-course meal for these elephant residents of the Anantara's traditional mahout village.
Two of the ‘girls', Lawann Champen and Yom checked into Anantara in September 2003, having spent the several years preceding the arrival amongst a herd of around 50 elephants at the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre (TECC) in Lampang, northern Thailand. Wan Di arrived in October 2004
Elephant years match closely with human years. Teenage elephants can be rambunctious like their human counter-parts, twenty-something girls love to flirt and are at their most fertile. Like people, as elephants mature they amass the wisdom of life experiences, remember people and places, take joy in their friendships and have a life expectancy of around 70 years.
Intelligent and watchful, they have distinct personalities. Some are playful, some prefer their own company, some are thinkers, some are lazy, some form life-long friendships, some are loners, some are fussy eaters, some are tactile. We may occasionally be overzealous in our anthropomorphism but watching elephants interact and ‘chat' with each other, it's clear that like humans they are questioning, assessing, discussing, pondering and making conclusions about the world around them.
The Anantara locals have spent many years working with tourists, trekking and performing logging demonstrations for visitors to the TECC. Placid and easy going, they effortlessly win the hearts of both adults and children. They are all happy to be scratched and patted and content to let guests clamber onto their backs as they hone their mahout skills.
Lawann (Wild Jasmine) is the village flirt and the undisputed media darling of the elephant camp, having now appeared on Thai, Australian, British and German television. The youngest of the group at only 29 years of age, she is too young to have ever worked as a logging elephant and was born into the Thai government's Forest Industry Organisation (the umbrella organisation which also runs the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre). She has always worked as a mahout trainer and with tourists.
Of the group she is the most playful and loves to flirt, especially with the male guests who come to visit the camp. She's very tactile and never shy about showing her feelings or moving in the direction of the food store when she's peckish. She loves having camera attention and has been known to indulge in a little diva like tantrums if someone else is getting more camera time than she is
She's happy with her own company and is happy spending time away from the other elephants, especially if it means she gets to be the centre of attention!
Lawann is looked after by Khu Nan and Khun Bounmee.
Wan Di is something of a mystery, even to her mahout. She had been at the TECC for just over a year and, though nothing was known of her past, her character was such that she was drafted into the professional mahout training programme. She claims to be 43 years old, though her mahout suspects that she is secretly a little older. The ambivalence with which she interacts with the other elephants suggests that she is used to being part of a large herd and her logging skills would point to the large logging camps of yesteryear.
That said, she has a playful ability to partake in sport and takes genuine pleasure in the kicking of balls and the rolling of logs; indeed, her speed and fitness may one day qualify her as a polo elephant. She has certainly worked in tourist camps and with a wide range of people. She is very protective of her rider but has a wilful streak that will often (even more often than the others!) see her sticking her head and long, long trunk deep into the forest for a particularly tasty piece of greenery.
Wan Di is looked after by Khun Jaan.
Champen is the largest of the girls, both in the beam and at the shoulder. Always a little aloof at first and with a reputation for having a stubborn streak; she is the ideal elephant for the three-day mahout course as, once her trust is earned, she can become an unshakeable friend. As a result of this, she has amassed a great many of loyal fans around the world.
Her name means ‘full moon' and gives no clue about her history prior to 1990 when she came to the TECC from a tin mine in the Kanchanburi province with her great friend and ex-Anantara partner Tantawan (who has now left us to take part in the TECC's breeding programme). After the mine went into liquidation, the owner donated his elephants to the Centre rather than see them suffer.
She is known to have one calf, Jojo, who based in Lampang and a part of their elephant show.
Champen is cared for by Khun Beng.
At 62 years of age, Pang Yom (who was named after a river), is the matriarch of the group. She spent most of her life working in the logging industry until the Thai government banned logging in 1989.
A mother of five, she has three ‘sons' and two ‘daughters', the youngest three of whom live and work at the TECC. Pang Yom is the calmest and most docile of the group and extremely patient with guests. She's the wisest, is unlikely to be fazed by anything and happy to live her life steadily and sedately.
Pang Yom is looked after by Khun Chamrat and Khun Nai.
Khun is a Thai honorific used when addressing or referring to both men and women)
Anantara Resort Golden Triangle is located 60km north of Chiang Rai's international airport. For enquiries and reservations, please call + 66 (0) 5378 4084 or + 66 (0) 2 477 0760 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit http://www.anantara.com/.
Anantara is taken from an ancient Sanskrit word that means 'borderless water', a name chosen for this element's association in many Asian cultures with wealth and good fortune. Inspired by local architecture and sensitive to the indigenous culture, Anantara Resorts are currently located in the seaside town of Hua Hin (220kms south of Bangkok), on Koh Samui in the Gulf of Thailand and in the Golden Triangle in the country's north. Anantara Resort Maldives will open in August 2006.
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Updated July 2006