Elephants in Thailand - a sad end for the gentle giants

The elephant is the national animal of Thailand, was honoured in Thai mythology and is a sacred symbol.

The wild Asian elephant’s natural environment has been drastically reduced. This means you’ll only get to see them in captivity. The total elephant population is a few thousand and few if any wild elephants exist in the jungle.

Currently there are around 2.000 to 3.000 ‘domesticated’ elephants; these are used as work elephants in the timber industry. 

The result of using machines in the timber industry has resulted in the elephant and the mahout as being obsolete.

Mahouts will often try to attach themselves to tourist camps or beg while walking through cities with their animals.

The Thai ceremony "Phaa Jaan" is shocking compared to the Indian traditional way of raising and training an elephant. The Indian way is slow, cautious and time consuming. The young elephant bonds to its mahout while slowly being separated from its mother.

The Thai way is quite different; the animal is subjected to torture from a range of different implements until it breaks down. From this point the animal is seen as ‘broken’ and will be a good follower- or so they say.

The animal rights group PETA has carried out some rather interesting studies. Check out this link as well:

Even if this type of method isn’t commonly used, it is difficult to know how the elephants have been raised.

We think it is a decision you should make for yourself, keeping in mind that there is chance you might support the barbaric traditions if you visit one of these elephant camps.

Naturally there are also other camps, like the "Elephant Nature Park". This particular park was set up and developed by a Thai environmental and animal rights activist Leck. So far we’ve only heard good things about this project.

If you are interested in visiting the "Elephant Nature Park" we can arrange this for you.

Another site worth checking out is the "Elephant Conservation Centre" located in Lamphang which is supported by the Thai Royal Family. They have an elephant hospital and elephant graveyard. The shows they put on remind me of a circus act.

Horseback riding is a great alternative which lets you enjoy the jungle and also meets the principles of eco tourism. We love it.

The Himalayan Mountain horse

For thousands of years horses have played an important role in Asia, especially the Himalayan mountain horse which is known for its sure footedness, mild disposition and intelligence.

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