It’s hard to find the words to describe the sheer magnitude of emotion that has coursed through our team at Unchained Elephants over the past few days. We’ve been on a rollercoaster of hope, fear, and ultimately, sheer joy. This is the journal of Kanoon’s incredible journey to freedom, a journey that has captured our hearts and paved the way for a brighter future for not only Kanoon but our project and mission in general. Chained up next to a garbage dump with scarce food and only one functioning eye, Kanoon, an old bull elephant, endured four brutal years in captivity in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Shackled, malnourished, and with a life marked by suffering, his plight was nothing short of devastating. Yet, Kanoon’s name will go down in history as he becomes the world’s first tokenized elephant!
With an unwavering commitment to breaking free from traditional constraints, together we’ve achieved the impossible, revolutionizing elephant conservation funding through Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) and crowdfunding. In doing so, not only have we unchained Kanoon but we’ve also paved the way for a brighter future in elephant conservation, marking a historic moment in elephant welfare in Thailand. This is the journal of Kanoon’s incredible journey to freedom, one we will never ever forget!
The Day We Unchained Kanoon, A Bull Elephant
September 5th, 2023, will forever be etched in our memories as our very first elephant rescue! The 13-hour journey from Chiang Mai to Sukhothai was a true test of our determination and resilience. As we embarked on this ambitious rescue mission, we were acutely aware of the challenges that lay ahead. We knew that Kanoon, who had endured four years of captivity, could be overwhelmed by a wave of emotions, and there was a genuine concern that he might turn his frustration against us.
Kanoon’s Paperworks & Elephant Visa
The day began early in the morning; we were too excited and woke up very early! As we headed to the amphor, where Kanoon’s pink book containing his vital records was to be transferred to his new caretakers at BLES, this critical step went off without a hitch—a smooth transaction that marked the beginning of Kanoon’s journey to freedom.
The next hurdle took us to the veterinarian’s office, where they would prepare Kanoon’s transport permit, what we refer to as his “elephant visa.” This document was key to the entire rescue operation, and we knew that any complications could have been a serious setback. However, everything unfolded seamlessly. By 10 a.m., we had successfully navigated this potential bottleneck and were on our way to the fresh market in Mae Tang, to grab some fruits for Kanoon’s 6-hour road trip, which, as it turned out, stretched into an almost 8-hour drive due to unforeseen circumstances.
Kanoon’s Road Trip To Sukhothai
The most daunting part of the day was the loading process. Kanoon had only experienced being on a truck twice in his life, with the last one being more than four years ago! We had mentally prepared ourselves for the worst-case scenario, uncertain of how he would react to this unfamiliar and potentially frightening experience. But we approached this critical moment with a combination of caution and positivity. We sent Kanoon waves of encouragement, reassuring him that this journey was leading him to a safe place where he could finally be free.
What was initially expected to take us three hours turned into an unexpectedly brief 30-minute loading time. Although we admit that we lost track of the time in the midst of it all, it was raining and emotional. Before we knew it, Kanoon was securely and comfortably on the truck, ready to embark on this transformative journey. His calmness throughout this process was extremely remarkable! As if he knew exactly what this journey meant for him.
As we watched the truck carrying Kanoon disappear into the horizon, we all were flooded with emotions. Knowing then that this was it! Our first elephant rescue is really happening. September 5th, the day Kanoon was unchained.
Facing Nature’s Fury: Kanoon’s Unshaken Resilience Amidst the Storm
With an urgent need to reach a quarantine checkpoint located two hours away, and its closing time looming at 4:30 pm, we arrived just a short while before the deadline, around 4:15 pm. At this checkpoint, they checked Kanoon’s condition, provided him with some water, and allowed us to continue our journey.
However, just as we thought the most challenging part was behind us, a storm appeared on the horizon, and heavy rain began to pour down.
Given Kanoon’s four years of being chained up, there was a legitimate concern that he might react strongly to the adverse weather conditions, potentially endangering the truck that transported him. Surprisingly, Kanoon remained remarkably calm throughout the downpour. To ensure his well-being and comfort, we made several stops along the way, providing him with ample food to enjoy during the journey.
Unchaining Kanoon: His Forever Home
When we got to BLES at 8:30 pm, it was very dark outside, and it was raining heavily. The road was all muddy and slippery. Even in these tough conditions, we had to be very careful as we helped Kanoon get off the truck and showed him the way to his night enclosure. It got a bit worrisome when he started coming down from the truck because he slipped. We were afraid it might turn into a scary situation. But Kanoon surprised us with how quickly he got back up and continued to come down, showing the same determination he had during his journey to freedom. Absolutely spectacular!
When we finally got to where Kanoon would spend the night, we were really happy to see a big, delicious buffet waiting for Kanoon with all his favorite foods. Organized by the BLES team and with the donations from Coffee Culture’s community. Kanoon, who was tired from the long journey, took a moment to look around and check out his new surroundings. Then, he had his first bite of corn, which he really liked. He leaned against a pillar, probably because he was so tired not just physically but also emotionally. But it was also a sign that he was starting a new, better life at BLES.
When we saw Kanoon happily eating his food, we felt really, really happy and thankful. It reminded us that with all your help, we made this day happen. We successfully saved Kanoon and gave him to a better life. That night, as we went to sleep, we felt really proud knowing that, together, we made a big difference in an elephant’s life. Kanoon was unchained!
Kanoon’s Great Forest Adventure: The Escape!
Over the next two days, we watched in awe as Kanoon slowly adapted to life at BLES. He socialized with the other elephants, threw soil on his back, collected branches to fan himself, and experienced his first mud bath. It was surreal, a sight we will never forget. And just when we thought, “Wow, what an amazing day!” Everything went so smoothly from start to finish.
As we made our way to Kanoon’s night enclosure, he faced a choice—whether to go back into his enclosure or venture into the forest. Which would you have chosen? He opted for the path leading to the forest. It was a moment of fear for everyone, including Kanoon. With neighboring land being used for agricultural plantations, Kanoon likely felt a mix of emotions, possibly associating the enclosure with the years of being chained up. But thanks to the skill and patience of his old mahout and the BLES team, he eventually returned willingly.
You Made This Elephant Rescue A Reality For Kanoon
Kanoon’s arrival at BLES signifies more than just his freedom; it’s the start of a brighter future for elephant well-being. Here, he’s embarking on a journey of rediscovery, relearning the ways of elephants, and healing from years of captivity. Kanoon, whose plight had captured our hearts, is now safely under the care at Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary.
With your unwavering support, we’ve provided him with a second chance at life, free from the chains that once bound him. This historic rescue operation was made possible through the generosity of our major sponsors and donors. We are so grateful for all the support you all have given us from the start. Because Kanoon’s rescue mission would not be possible without each and every one of you. So thank you so so very much!
In the coming weeks and months, Unchained Elephants will persist in raising funds for Kanoon’s care at BLES.
We’ll also be focus on educating travelers, promoting ethical elephant tourism, and actively seeking out captive elephants in need of rescue. Our mission extends far beyond Kanoon’s rescue; it encompasses our NFT project, where we are committed to developing “Discovering Phuket,” a platform that enhances travel experiences while promoting responsible tourism and supporting elephant welfare.
Thank you for being a part of this incredible journey towards a better future for elephants like Kanoon. Together, we can make a difference.