The Sri Lanka Travel Specialists
Visit the Millenium Elephant Foundation which works to improve the care, protection and treatment of captive elephants in Sri Lanka. Get up close and personal with some of Sri Lanka’s most majestic and iconic creatures and discover the complex issues which affect their conservation in Sri Lanka.
The Foundation, started in 1999, is a family-run non-government organization (NGO). It not only provides a place of sanctuary, but offers care, medical treatments, food, mahout salaries, as well as having an on call Mobile Veterinary Unit which travels around Sri Lanka to treat sick or injured elephants. Income from volunteers and tourism funds this work.
The island has a historical cultural connection with elephants which dates back many years, and the ownership of these magnificent creatures – and their use in religious ceremonies and processions – is common practice across Sri Lanka. Privately owned elephants hold a lot of value and status, some owners will simply keep an elephant chained in their gardens to show off their wealth. These elephants rarely receive the care they need as there are no elephant experts on site to ensure the physical and emotional needs of the elephants. Ownership may be transferred between generations with disastrous results. It is these issues that the Foundation seeks to address by offering to rent and house elephants.
Bareback elephant riding is offered to visitors, although never with a howdah – the traditional carriage most often seen in historic photographs. And in recognition of changing times, the MEF also promotes an elephant walk experience as an alternative to riding. Unlike the bareback riding, elephants can move at their leisure while visitors just troll alongside in awe.
As well as the walk, you can also listen to an educational talk, help bathe an elephant in the river, even have an optional elephant shower and tour an elephant dung factory.
The Millenium Elephant Foundation is located in Kegalle near Kandy. Join an elephant expert who volunteers here and learn all about the foundation and the elephants that they care for. You can walk with the elephants, bathe them and visit the on-site elephant dung factory. However, visitors should be aware that many of the elephants kept here are chained, on the request of their owners. The elephants do no manual labour, however, and are only guided by a trained mahout, a caretaker who uses a hook to tap certain pressure points on the animal’s body – this does not hurt them when done correctly.
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