Back Ground and General INFO
Logging was banned in Thailand in 1989. Logging had been the primary occupation of Thai elephants and their mahouts. After the ban, elephants trainers had to find other ways to feed themselves and their elephants. Most of them turned to the entertainment industry and tourism. Many mahouts took their elephants to Bangkok, roaming the streets with baskets of fruits for the tourists to buy and feed the animal. Elephants now had to beg for food and perform tricks or act as party props in exchange for money. On 17 June 2010, elephant protection laws were passed making these acts illegal.
An Asian Elephant Range States Meeting in 2017 estimated the number of captive elephants in Thailand at 3,783. The Department of Livestock Development says that some 223 elephant camps exist in the country. They fall into three categories: camps for observation purposes only; non-riding camps that allow other activities; and elephant riding camps.
Historically, elephants in Thailand are considered to be very important culturally. There are many elephant’s references to artworks, literature and national emblems. Since Thailand is a majority Buddhist country, elephants are portrayed as sacred animals from their special symbolism in the practice of Buddhism. Many artworks in Thai royal palaces and temples have drawings of elephants on the paintings on the walls. In 1917, Thailand’s official flag was a white elephant in the middle of the scarlet background. White elephants in Thai society also represent wealth and power because of their past association with the Thai royals. The royal Thai navy flag also bears the symbol of the white elephant. Many provinces in Thailand used to have elephants as part of their official emblems as well. In the Thai animal and planetary zodiac, the elephant is the fourth animal zodiac of the Thai people.