The Asian elephant is classed as ‘endangered’ on the IUCN Red List (1994) and protected under CITES – The Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species
Numbers of wild Elephants have been decreasing throughout Asia at an alarming rate. They face problems such as poaching for ivory and baby Elephants to supply the tourist trade and deforestation leading to loss of habitat to name but a few.
Thailand has the largest number of captive Elephants anywhere in the world, estimated at around 3000 most working in the tourist industry. This compares to around 2000 or less in the wild, this number is thought to be decreasing rapidly.
In 1989 the Thai Government banned logging to protect its beautiful forests. The Elephants had been held captive to work with man in the forests, being forced to destroy their own habitat. When the ban came in this left thousands of Elephants and their Mahouts out of work, in desperation they turned to tourism.
The tourist industry in Thailand has exploded over recent years and it welcomes millions of tourists from all nationalities every year. Most of these tourists will want to spend time with an Elephant and so here lies the problems ……
Due to the high demand Elephants have become exploited in this industry, living in terrible conditions in trekking camps, being trained to perform tricks and shows, chained on short chains day after day, being force bred to provide more “cute babies” for tourists …….. the list is endless, we have highlighted the problems.
Elephants in shows are a growing attraction for tourists in Thailand. They range from grand performances on a large scale featuring many Elephants to a tiny show with one baby Elephant in trekking camps and everything in between.
Training to perform tricks is harsh involving beatings with hooks and nails, the Elephant will have learnt to fear the hooks and nails when they are used for the performance.
During the shows the Elephants will be controlled with the hooks and nails to force them to perform whatever trick they are being told to do.
Tricks such as painting, playing basketball,..
Many trekking camps and tourist attractions with Elephants now train the Elephants to perform in shows and a very popular activity is Elephants painting. It is a myth that ElepP1170924hants are so clever that they love to paint.
The truth is they have gone through harsh training to learn these tricks, During the performance a sharp nail or hook is used to guide the Elephants trunk to make each move of the paint brush.
If the Elephants get it wrong the punishments are harsh so they learn to do it the right way. This is a pointless activity, buying these paintings is sadly supporting abuse and..
This is a popular activity for tourists particularly in Thailand’s tourist hot spots. Trekking can be booked though tour operators as part of a holiday, through a hotel or visitors can simply pop into the camps. A chair in strapped to the Elephants back and the tourists then sit in the chair and take a ride that can be 5 minutes in length up to an hour or more. Some treks are just in a circle in a camp and some are through jungle. Most people don’t know that Elephants backs are not designed to carry weights like this and many Elephants end up with deformed and broken backs as a result of years..