With the new law in 1989 (2532 be) passed that forbade putting elephants to work in logging camps, mahouts and elephant owners were desperate to find money to supply the daily needs of the elephants, who don’t care how much food costs when they’re hungry. mahouts even started roaming the streets of big cities such as bangkok with their elephants, begging and making the elephants do tricks to earn money.
With more regulations coming through, now most domesticated elephants are put to work at touristic attractions, mainly riding camps. Since the realization of the horrifying conditions in which the elephants are forced to work, with little to no rest, public opinion is shifting. People are concerned for the current situation of the Thai elephants, which is where Elephant Peace Project comes in.
Such as many other elephant sanctuaries in Northern Thailand, Elephant Peace Project focuses mainly on the well being of the elephant, rather than the entertainment or proﬁt factor.
In addition, we promote the traditional Karen way of taking care of the elephant. The Karen people have always been working and living with elephants and consider the animal as part of the family, rather than a working animal or pet. In the logging days, the Karen respected the elephants as intelligent creatures and granted them the needed rest.
The change from traditional work to more touristic work, which seemed like working in circuses while overworking, being underfed and often being abused, did put a lot of pressure on both the elephant and the mahout or the owner. For the elephant it meant decreasing life expectancy and quality, and even decreases in the overall population of Thai elephants (coming from 100,000 elephants in 1850 to 7,000 or 8,000 today). For the mahouts and the owners it meant having little choice in providing for the elephants and their family, while seeing their most respected elephants working in dangerous conditions.
We are trying to change this. Through the traditional Karen way of taking care of the elephants, we are trying to restore their well-being and their respected status as a member of the family.