The man behind Elephant Valley
Jack Highwood is the founder and manager of Elephant Valley in Chiang Rai. Jack is from the UK. He is 35 years old. Jack came to Thailand for the first time in 2002. Through schoolfriend who is half British-half Thai he came into touch with an elephant camp on Koh Chang. He spent considerable time helping out at this camp which aroused his passion for elephants.
Jack in Cambodia
In 2007 Jack founded the Elephants Livelihood Initiative Environment (ELIE), a small charity that works to improve the welfare and working conditions of elephants in Cambodia. He also founded the Elephant Valley Project (EVP), which is located in Mondulkiri, a remote province in the east of Cambodia. The Elephant Valley Project takes care of 10 elephants. He founded the camp which is about 8 kms outside of Chiang Rai about three years ago. The camp is conveniently located very close to Wat Rong Khun which makes a combination visit possible.
No elephant activities and interaction
Jack’s elephant camp is unique because it doesn’t offer any interaction or activities with elephants. There is no riding, no bathing, no mahout training and no feeding. Jack even tries to avoid the elephants seeing human beings. You are asked to stay outside of the eyesight of the elephant. These are captive elephants but they enjoy as much freedom as elephants in captivity can enjoy. There are only five elephants on a large piece of land: one male and four females. You will see them roaming around freely. You will learn about the Asian elephant and its status as an animal that is threatened with extinction. Jack is usually around and meets guests.
“Flying by” visits
What we really about Jack’s camp is that things are not regimented. There is no strict program. You go where the elephants are and observe them in going on in their undisturbed daily life. The camp also allows short, “flying by” visits which is great. Many people are interested in elephants and want to observe them. They just don’t want to spend a whole day. Many elephant camps offer at least a half day visit. Another great thing of Elephant Valley is that it is very conveniently located close to the main road Chiang Rai-Phayao. You can just visit the camp along the way and combine it with visiting Wat Rong Khun.
The future of Elephant Valley
Jack and his staff are working to prepare two much larger plots of land in the vicinity of the current camp. It’s his ambition to release elephants in this area so that they can live their lives as close to natural as possible. We will follow the exploits of Jack, his staff and his elephant as closely as possible.