Street begging is a problem for many of Thailand’s Elephants. It literally means the Elephants are wandering the streets with their Mahouts begging for money. The Mahout will sell sugarcane to tourists to feed the Elephant, Elephants rely on a varied diet for their survival and the diet of a street beggar is very limited and so can lead to terrible health issues and a high mortality rate.
City streets are no place for an Elephant, the fumes go into their trunks causing respiratory problems, the traffic noise is damaging to their sensitive ears and can cause great distress. Walking on concrete all day and night is very damaging to their feet. The Elephants are hungry and often very thirsty with poor access to water, they frequently eat plastic bags and rubbish and drink from beer bottles desperate to find water.
They will sleep under bridges with their Mahouts who can often be young and have their own issues such as drug addiction.
This is a terrible life for the Elephants and extremely damaging to their health, street begging is now illegal in most cities this can however push the street beggars into rural areas where they are less likely to be reported. I have recently seen street begging Elephants in a very rural area.
Fines can be hefty for Mahouts caught and even result in a prison sentence, people seen feeding the Elephants can also be fined.
Please don’t support this activity and call the police if you see an Elephant begging on the streets.