Connect with us

Thai Life

Elephant shows and rides under siege

Tim Newton

Published 

 on 

PHOTO: (The Nation) Elephants and mahouts wait for the next group of tourists to take them for a ride.

Twenty or thirty years ago many western tourists would have thought nothing about hopping on the back of an elephant and taking a ride astride one of these mighty Thai beasts. Tourists would clap in delight at the cute baby elephants ‘painting’ on easels or balancing on tiny platforms doing a faux wai.

In 2017 the situation is quite different which a surge of press telling a very different story about the training these poor animals have to endure just so that tourists can be amused and their owners profit – a vicious circle of supply and demand.

Elephant shows and rides under siege | News by Thaiger

‘Ethical’ elephant attractions are now the trend with tourists heading further out of town to walk, feed and get up-close-and-personal with a pachyderm in a more natural environment. In this case people are still profiting from elephant tourism, just a modern day version of it. The tourists also say they leave these elephant ‘sanctuaries’ with a clear conscience.

Elephants have been working for their food for hundreds of years in Siam and Thailand. They used to be ridden on as Princes and Generals went to war in what must have been like watching a battle in slow motion (elephants aren’t the fastest land mammals). Then they were used to help fell and transport timber from Thailand’s massive timber reserves in rain forests until that industry also became unpopular and logging was virtually banned.
It wasn’t as if you could just set them free to roam around the plains of Thailand. Elephants, usually quite placid, are also very large and heavy and, when angered, can be extremely dangerous and destructive. So what to do with all these elephants – the Asian elephant can live up to 50 years or more.
The mahouts put them to work as tourist attractions – taking paying tourists for rides (it has to be said that a ride on an elephant is probably uncomfortable for the elephant and most certainly uncomfortable for the person on the ride). Then they figured they could teach the younger elephants tricks – elephants are reasonably smart mammals – for the further amusement of the eager tourists.
But the situation wasn’t a win-win. Certainly not for the elephants anyway. In the last decade it’s come to light about the training and torture some elephants suffer to be encouraged to provide these entertainments for paying tourists.
As usual, the material posted by some of the activists was very one-sided and focussed on some selective training from a minority of cruel mahouts. Elephant camps maintain that their animals are well cared for and that the elephants actually enjoy the interaction and physical activity. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
But elephant rides and exhibitions of painting and doing other tricks persists because some tourists still love this type of attraction and see nothing wrong with it – ignorant of some of the more recent publicity showing the other side of elephant training. The same tourists see nothing wrong with going to the dolphin and reptile shows – it’s just a cultural differences mixed in with some ignorance of the flip side of the animals-for-tourism debate.
Elephant shows and rides under siege | News by Thaiger

The debate will continue and, for the meantime, there are still plenty of venues in Phuket where you go elephant trekking (well, the elephant’s do all the trekking – you’re just going along for the ride) and see elephants doing cute tricks for applauding tourist groups.

We would urge tourists to seek out one of the elephant ‘sanctuaries’ where the elephants are given room to move, not chained up, and where tourists can see these magnificent beasts in a more natural environment.

This article certainly makes its point graphically and in no uncertain terms. Read it HERE.

 

Want more from the Thaiger family?

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📝️ Join the conversation on Thaiger Talk - discuss news & life in our Thailand forums
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates

image

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for 41 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program, presented over 10,000 radio news bulletins, 3,900 in Thailand alone, hosted 650 daily TV news programs and produced 2,100 videos, TV commercials and documentaries. As founder of The Thaiger, Tim now acts as the Content Manager and head-writer, whilst supervising the growth of the YouTube channel. He's reported for CNN, Deutsche Welle TV, CBC, Australia's ABC TV and Australian radio during the 2018 Cave Rescue and other major stories in Thailand.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Thailand19 mins ago

Tourism officials eye August reopening under “Pattaya Move On” travel scheme

Thailand58 mins ago

Thailand News Today | Covid vaccine for foreigners, PM “not going anywhere”, Boss update | June 15

Best of1 hour ago

Top 8 Affordable Hotels to stay in Bangkok

Phuket Sandbox July 1st

days
hours
minutes
seconds

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in July - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages in June!

Sponsored by image

Thailand1 hour ago

Central Bankruptcy Court approves Thai Airways debt restructuring plan

Best of2 hours ago

Top 5 secret islands and beaches in Thailand

Best of2 hours ago

5 best national parks in Phuket

Thailand2 hours ago

Australian man arrested for alleged child sex abuse in Thai border town

Best of2 hours ago

10 best fruits and vegetables in Thailand

Thailand2 hours ago

3 dead in 3 truck crash in Surat Thani

Thailand3 hours ago

Bangkok Post and Fazwaz join together to galvanise property listings platform

Bangkok3 hours ago

CCSA has yet to begin talks on lifting alcohol ban at Bangkok restaurants

Coronavirus (Covid-19)3 hours ago

Yala enters lockdown today

Thailand4 hours ago

Thai police say they’ve gathered “strong evidence” on transnational drug trade

Phuket4 hours ago

Indonesian fisherman rescued after 9 days adrift at sea

Thailand5 hours ago

More than 100 cats rescued from owner

Thailand3 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism3 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism4 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8

Trending