One of three rescued elephants during Covid, beautiful Butterfly, as we affectionally named her, was rescued to Tree Tops on 13th April 2021. Originally from Surin Province in North East Thailand, 50 year old Butterfly has spent years being sold from one owner to another, as a logging elephant, and then re-trained to give rides to tourists. She was relocated from Koh Samui to Phang Nga, where she worked 7 days a week at a riding camp which pre-Covid had up to 2000 Chinese tourists a day.
When we went to meet Butterfly for the first time we were horrified at her condition. She was skeleton thin and had wounds and scars all over her body. She was being forced to stand in the river using hooks and a long spear. We pulled together with the generous donations from our supporters and Butterfly was in a truck on the way to Tree Tops in no time.
As with any human or animal, no two elephants are the same and it takes time to rehabilitate an elephant such a Butterfly. She is one of the worst abuse cases that we have seen and we are working very gently with her so she learns to trust us.
Below are a few lovely videos and stories that we have shared on social media including Butterfly's rescue with music legend DJ Goldie joining Louise on the rescue.
Butterfly is safe with us now and is showered with unconditional love and kindness. Our peaceful sanctuary will allow her mind and body to continue to heal and we hope she will slowly leave her past behind.
For further updates on Butterfly and all our elephants, please head over to our Facebook and Instagram.
13 April 2021
April 2021 - BUTTERFLY'S RESCUE
Drum and Bass legend, DJ, and friend, Goldie, lives here in Phuket and has been an incredible support for Tree Tops and our work to help the elephants. Goldie joined Butterfly's rescue.
Thank you to everyone who generously donated and contributed their time to save this beautiful elephant.
Filmed and produced by Peter Stryjewski from NAS - Niceandsimple Co.
Butterfly, just three days after arriving at Tree Tops and taking her first dip in the pond.
She was very nervous, confused and afraid, so to slowly help her to gain confidence, we decided, to let her be closer to our other elephants. Nam Gaew, Fah Sai and Nam Sook are very gentle, and Fah Sai likes to make friends with everybody! As they went for a dip in the pond, Butterfly was very hesitant but followed behind them, soon realizing that it was ok to go in too.
Nam Gaew, Fah Sai and Nam Sook waded through to the far side of the pond with Butterfly lying on her side and rolling around in the water, slowly learning that peace is all around her.
15 April 2021
We had a huge downpour of rain around lunchtime which cleared up to leave lots of fresh runny mud for the elephants to play in. Nam Gaew and Fah Sai walked down to the muddy wallow and Butterfly followed them!
We were rather hesitant at first as Fah Sai is young, cheeky, and can be quite boisterous, and we wanted to make sure that she wouldn't be too much for Butterfly who could push her away... but the exact opposite happened.
Fah Sai sat down on her bottom in the mud and Butterfly (on the left in the video) started throwing mud all over herself.... learning from Fah Sai that it's ok to do this, and she then continued for over half an hour.
We know we've said this before but elephants really do heal each other and this is a perfect example!
3 May 2021
When Butterfly first arrived at Tree Tops, she was petrified of everything. Any sudden movement and she would cower to the back of her shelter or walk backwards in fear, so we have learnt to move very slowly when near her. We made the decision to introduce her to Nam Gaew and Fah Sai so they could show her around, introduce her to the ponds, join them in the mud, so she could see that life at Tree Tops is all about being an elephant.
This helped enormously and as she began to understand and grow in confidence, she chose to walk off on her own more and more. At the moment, she mostly chooses to graze at the far end of the reserve where there are lot of soft grasses.
Butterfly was very underweight which was of great concern. When she first arrived, we had to de-lice her immediately as she was covered in tiny black lice. This included a lice shampoo scrub as well as Ivermectin. She was also de-wormed and we were shocked as she was riddled with hookworms and roundworms.
We also noticed that she only chews on the left side of her mouth but she was very guarded and would not open her mouth for us to take a look. We've had to gain her trust, as her trust in humans was almost non-existent. This has taken a lot of time and we finally managed to train her slowly and carefully with bananas to open her mouth so we could take a video of her teeth for the vet. We were shocked to see that her lower right molar is very badly decayed and we are in talks with numerous vets to work out the best medical program for her. From what we can see, her tooth is about to fall out so we may just have to wait until this happens naturally.
Butterfly’s appetite is not affected by her decaying tooth. She is enjoying a delicious soft rice ball mix twice daily. She is eating well, chewing grasses, and slowly putting on weight. Her ribs aren’t quite so prominent anymore. She also loves to play in the mud and bathe in the ponds, and occasionally wanders over to Nam Gaew and Fah Sai who have become the elephants that all our new rescues are gravitating to.