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elephant.orgThe Exploitation of the Asian Elephant


I’m not going to deny that the Asian Elephant is continuously exploited, it is happening. Over the last few weeks there was a link making its rounds on Facebook revealing the tragic lives of the Asian Elephants. Although it was informative, I feel that actions speak louder than clicking a share button on Facebook…

Thai legislation offers no protection to captive elephants, classifying them as livestock. What’s crucial about this bit of information is that it is not illegal to chain them up or use them as you would a donkey or ox. The Asian Elephants therefore rely on people’s compassion and generosity to provide them with a better life.


The solution… is there one?


The Asian Elephant is currently relying on tourism to pay for their day-to-day needs as their natural habitat has all but disappeared and they cannot provide for themselves. I think it’s important to clarify just how much the elephants NEED tourism in order to survive. An elephant can eat as much as 150kgs of food and if you have tried to eat a kilogram of steak, you can imagine the monumental amount needed on a daily basis, not to mention annual costs just on their consumption alone.


The Save Elephant Foundation and Elephant Nature Park and others have taken it upon themselves to promote the ‘new form of tourism’. Their mission is to ‘increase awareness about the plight of the endangered Asian elephant, educate locals of the humane treatment of their elephants, and provide sanctuary for rescued elephants.’

The above organisations open their doors to volunteers around the world, inviting them to spend a week at their natural reserves and help bathe, feed and care for the rescued elephants. So, instead of partying in Patong for a week you can sign up HERE  and have a gratifying week helping these endangered animals.


I don’t travel, but I want to help…


Not everyone has the means to get up and live in a jungle for a week. For further options see:

I rode elephants in Phuket, Thailand. It was on my bucket-list and my experience was anti-climatic. I wanted to bathe the elephants and see them wander free in their natural habitat without being forced to entertain me for a couple of hours.


I urge you to explore this new form of tourism regarding the Asian Elephant. After reading the links mentioned, tell me you’re not going to live in a jungle scooping elephant dung and building houses. I’ll probably see you there…


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Images (2)
  • Photo taken from the Save Elephant FB Page
  • Travel with Lamb: A photo from my experience with elephants

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Comments (2)

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Thanks for sharing these thoughts.  Elephants are highly intelligent animals, probably smarter than dogs for example.   Wild elephants in Asia are having a hard time because of loss of habitat and conversion of their normal range to agricultural land.  Most do not have ivory tusks so unlike their African cousins, they are not slaughtered for their teeth.


In Sri Lanka I visited the elephant orphanage in Pinnawala a number of times, which I've previously written about on TravelGumbo at this link.  The orphanage was created during the civil war to provide a home for those babies whose mothers were accidently killed in the conflict (eg. stepping on a land mine).  Elephants were treated well, with enough to eat and space to walk around in and even a river to swim and bath in.  But the mahouts (elephant handlers) made it pretty clear that elephants like to have a job.  They like to be challenged and to have something to do.  Like most intelligent creatures, it gives them a sense of accomplishment to have done something.


It's certainly worth our efforts to save these amazing animals.  It's hard for me to imagine a world without elephants.

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

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