Some choose to rent elephants from their owners by paying a monthly fee. This is common in riding camps that adjust the number of elephants and mahouts they employ depending on the high and low tourist seasons. Facilities that rent elephants can avoid having to raise a large sum of money to acquire a single elephant by paying small monthly fees to several owners. This way, their facility is always stocked with elephants, but they don’t have to work with large sums of money and can always pick and choose which elephants they do and don’t want at any given time.
Similarly, the cost of land in Thailand is on the rise. In order to avoid paying out all at once, some facilities will rent land so that their elephants still have space to forage and graze.
BLES recognises that every facility is different, and depending on what their overall goal is, they will deal with land and elephant purchases accordingly. BLES Founder, Katherine Connor, has always believed that in order to give BLES elephants freedom - certain, indefinite freedom - the Sanctuary would have to own both elephants and land.
Buying, rather than renting, is the only way to ensure that neither elephants nor land will be sold to another party willing to pay more money, and it is the only way to begin to make the change that we want to create in how elephants are managed and how owners can find alternative options for income.