Scubafish celebrates World Elephant Day 2015
Thailand’s national symbol remains the elephant, which has been an integral part of Thai history and life for centuries. Whilst on holiday in Thailand, there are many things people want to do including scuba diving, yoga, temple visits, cooking classes, massage and of course, seeing Elephants.
As with all things, there are ethical and non ethical ways of doing this. Scubafish, through World Elephant Day 2015, promotes the conservation and fair treatment of all Thai Elephants and hopes to help you make informed decisions regarding them. This will allow you to have an experience, we can guarantee, you will never forget.
Recommended Ethical Thai Elephant Sanctuaries
Why not celebrate World Elephant Day 2015, by booking with one of the following ethical Thai Elephant sanctuaries?
Elephant Nature Park, Mae Taeng, Chiang Mai.
Burm & Amp Emily’s Elephant Sanctuary, Mae Chaem, Chiang Mai.
Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, Chiang Mai.
Friends of the Asian Elephant Hospital, Lampang City, Lampang.
The Surin Project, Tha Tum, Surin.
Elephant’s World, Kanchanaburi City, Kanchanaburi.
Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand’s Wildlife Rescue Center, Tha Mai Ruak, Petchaburi.
Elephant Hills, Phanom District, Surat Thani.
Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary , Si Satchanalai District, Sukhothai.
History of Thai Elephants
Elephants (ช้าง) have always played an integral part in Thai culture and Thai history. All Thai kings had a stable of white elephants and the animals once decorated the national flag and currency. Centuries ago, Thai Elephants were used as weapons of war, however in more recent times their purpose has been to work relentlessly in the cruel logging industry.
However in 1988, when Thailand suffered a disastrous flood, the worst in a century, the government realised exactly the harm that they were doing to the land through deforestation. In 1989 logging was banned.
While undoubtedly a very wise choice as wild Asian elephants populations had greatly declined and deforestation caused the loss of lives and homes, the logging ban put about 20,000 captive Asian elephants and their mahouts out of work overnight.
It was at this time that tourism started to boom in Thailand and mahouts realised they could earn a living through elephant tourism activities. Whilst this was a solution for many mahouts, it was not a solution for the elephants, quite the opposite.
Problems facing Elephants
Worldwide, Elephants are under threat. Current figures show that one African Elephant is being poached every 15 minutes for the ivory trade, driven by demand primarily from China. That’s 36,000 every year with estimations based on this trend being that African elephants in the wild will be extinct by 2025. That’s only 10 years away.
Only approximately 2000 Thai Elephants remain in the wild, another 4000 are ‘domesticated’.
Thai ‘domesticated’ Elephants are mostly now assigned a fate of working in tourist trekking camps, circuses, street begging or illegal logging operations. All of these are no life for an intelligent, sentient being.
Elephants have a strong sense of family, with the females from any family remaining together for life, if they have the choice. Males will stay with their mothers until at least 10 years old, until leaving the group to mate.
The truth is each Elephant in these industries have been put through a process known as Pajaan (breaking the spirit), for the elephant to accept its human passenger. Many videos exist of this process which are heartbreaking to watch.
Pajaan involves the Elephant being bound with ropes in a cage known as a ‘crush’, deprived of food and water for three days and nights, whilst being beaten and stabbed with a bullhook. The Elephant is somehow expected to learn the commands being shouted at it. This terrifying process is repeated until the Elephant is broken and submits to the commands. Many do not survive. Those that do are constantly reminded by the threat of the bullhook, of what the mahout can inflict, should they not comply with commands.
Never Ride an Elephant
Trekking camps often have the word ‘Eco’ in their title but are far from it. Contrary to popular belief, an Elephant is not designed to carry people or anything else on their back, due to their spine being convex. Made to work relentless hours in the blistering heat, common injuries are spinal injuries, foot injuries and physiological trauma. Any facility that offers you anything other than spending time with an Elephant, is not a true sanctuary.
Circuses may seem like fun for children but can you imagine what ‘training’ the Elephants have undergone to perform these un-natural acts?
Street begging with Elephants is now illegal, however continues. City streets are dangerous places for Elephants who are extremely sensitive to noise, lights and can actually sense vibrations through their feet. Road accidents, dehydration and malnourishment are some of the issues faced by them.
Some Elephants are still brutally used in illegal logging. Overworked and overdosed on amphetamines to increase their stamina.
What You can do to help Elephants
Celebrate World Elephant Day 2015 by doing one of the following:
March for Elephants! On October 3-4th 2015, dozens of cities Globally, will take a stand to protect Elephants. Find an event near you.
Never buy ivory products, whether legally or illegally obtained. Here’s why.