The first Meliá resort to open in Thailand has provided land for a community farm to help feed elephants rescued from exploitation activities.
Located 200 metres from Meliá Koh Samui on the north-eastern tip of Koh Samui island, the 250 square metre farm supports 200 banana trees, as well as such additional elephant fodder as napier and sweet grass.
The formation of the farm was spurred by news that ethical elephant sanctuary Samui Elephant Haven was struggling to feed its herd of 21 elephants in the wake of a dramatic downturn in tourist numbers to the island due to the global pandemic.
“These magnificent animals need to eat 10% of their body weight in food daily, which is up to400kg per elephant,” said the resort’s general manager, Ernesto Osuna. “With the sanctuary trying to survive on only 5% of the funding necessary, its herd has been getting only a fraction of its normal food intake.”
The sanctuary opened in 2018 as a safe harbor for elephants that had been put to work on tourist treks, as show animals and in the logging industry. At the Haven, they are free to roam the 10-hectare sanctuary, to play, forage for native plants and bathe in various pools.
As a result of the global pandemic Samui Elephant Haven is spending funds previously allocated for land rental to feed its herd, prompting fears it will be unable to continue renting the land and be forced to displace the elephants.
To educate guests about the plight of rescued elephants and encourage them to visit and support the sanctuary, Meliá Koh Samui has unveiled an elephant mascot Coco to provide information about the Haven and as a host for educational activities about the elephants at the resort’s kids club ‘Kidsdom’.
The community farm and mascot Coco’s debut are the latest in a string of initiatives by the resort to help the hard-hit local community.
The resort’s staff have funded and distributed packs brimming with essential items such as rice, noodles, cooking oil, milk, tinned food and more to people in need.
The resort is also home to The Gallery, situated in the lobby, a not-for-profit social enterprise designed to help improve the lives of Thai communities. The Gallery sells accessories such as handbags, wallets, and silks, and home décor items such as ceramics and wooden model boats, made by Thai designers and artists. All profits support further artistic endeavors as well as help preserve and promote local culture and areas in need.