A campaign to stop the use of elephants as begging tools on the city streets of Thailand.
Historically, domestic elephants have been used mainly in the logging industry, ironically and unwillingly helping to destroy the very habitat they need to survive. After the ban on logging, most of these elephants have ended up being used for the tourism industry or have had to make a living begging on the streets of big cities.
Walking day and night on these dirty and traffic congested streets is dangerous and unhealthy and very often, these elephants end up being involved in horrific traffic accidents. Regrettably, in Thailand, there are no laws to prevent this abuse and mistreatment, therefore there is an urgent need to help these animals.
The Wildlife Friends of Thailand currently run a program to keep the domestic elephants of the streets of Bangkok and other big cities, and are campaigning to stop the use of these magnificent creatures as begging tools.
Despite the flurry of media publicity and government attempts to corral the elephants in 2004, begging elephants, particularly babies, are being used in high numbers in the cities of Thailand again.
Unfortunately, the majority of the elephant handlers are not trained mahouts with specialized knowledge of elephant control. The keepers of the begging elephants are solely interested in making profit through their animals, who are often rented out to them by rich businessmen for as little as 1500 baht a month (approx. 30 euros).
Elephant babies are forced to walk for hours at a time at night, and during daylight hours are concealed in disused dumps, construction sites, or scrubland, with inadequate shade from the sun. To keep them looking small and cute, some elephants are deliberately underfed.
There have been various solutions put forward by officials to the problem, such as animal registration, microchipping or alternative job creation for the mahouts, but as of yet, these efforts have unfortunately had little effect.
As with all wildlife, WFFT strongly advises tourists and locals alike never pay for ‘entertainment’ that comes in the form of elephant exploitation.