Hundreds of elephants throughout Thailand are suffering from starvation and illness due to the ongoing pandemic and lack of tourists.
There are elephant camps all over Thailand, some focused on conservation and protecting the animals and others focused on attracting tourists for elephant rides and shows.
The common denominator between all of the camps is their reliance on tourists for income to help to feed and look after the elephants.
In Northern Thailand alone there were around 80 elephant camps before the pandemic. Many of these have been forced to close and it is estimated that around 1,000 elephants are suffering. It costs around 1,300 baht (approx £31 or US$44) per day to pay for food and mahout wages not to mention veterinary bills and without income from tourists the camps have run out of funds.
“Some people think that not working is good for the elephants, but that’s not the case. They need exercise, which they don’t get when the camps are closed. They are sensitive creatures and suffer from mental and emotional problems when they are separated from the herd or their mahout.”
“Also, without a varied diet, they get sick easily, and veterinary care for an elephant is very expensive.”Theerapat Trungprakan, Owner of Patara Elephant Farm and President of the Thai Elephant Alliance Association via South China Morning Post
Many elephants have returned to villages with their mahouts where they forage for food.
Mane others however have been abandoned altogether. The Pattaya Mail have reported on an abandoned animal on the brink of starvation near Pattaya which need to be treated with 50 bottles of intravenous fluids and medicine for skin sores caused by lying in the same position for too long.
There are some hopes that many elephants will remain in villages once the pandemic is over and tourists return. The reality is however that it is likely that they will return to camps as long as tourists are prepared to pay for elephant rides, shows and other interactions designed to generate income rather than looking after their long=term welfare.
Here at Flyingdog Travel we encourage everyone to only visit animal attractions that are designed for conservation and animal welfare and to never visit camps who offer rides and elephant shows which are both bad for the animals health and welfare.
Advertising and affiliate links help to support this site. We never tailor content to encourage sales with a particular company. We only partner with organisations who we believe provide a good service or product. Thank you.