In Thai society elephants have played a substantial role in manual labor, war, royal iconography, and the tourism industry.
In Thai society elephants have played a substantial role in manual labor, war, royal iconography, and the tourism industry. For thousands of years, elephants were captured and trained to be a form of transport and heavy labor. In addition to playing a part in Thailand’s battles, elephants were put to work across the country for generations. From hauling teak wood to logging the dense jungles in the north, elephants were used in lieu of machinery. Elephants were trained until about the age of 10 before actually being put to work, and they did not retire until about the age of 60.
While people have consistently profited from the elephants, this relationship has not been greatly beneficial to the elephants. Revered throughout Thailand, elephants have greatly influenced Thai culture, myth, and religion, though the deep respect held for the species is unfortunately not often reflected in the treatment of individual elephants. Widespread abuse, poaching, deforestation, increased tourism, farming, and a vast reduction in habitat have all contributed to a rapid decline in elephant numbers, and Asian elephants are now officially an endangered species.
Seeing an elephant in Thailand has long been a favourite of adventurous travellers, and visiting Elephant camp gets you close to the magnificent animals while ensuring their preservation and well-being. Here are some of the best ways to experience elephant conservation in Chiang Mai.