"Whatever you do may seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it”

Tourists contributing to the abuse of Asian Elephants.

Looks fun doesn’t it. Tourists happily larking about on the back of Elephants that have endured years of abuse of which you the tourist have provided funding for more Elephants to be ripped from their mothers and fathers then crushed, smuggled, beaten and shot dead. Fun isn’t it? If only you knew the real truth behind the ride.

International Animal Rescue Foundation.Org.Uk have become increasingly frustrated with American and European tourists that still fail to see that what they are participating in only fuels more abuse and deaths of many Elephants. A picture can tell a million stories. This picture hereto doesn’t just show happy tourists; unfortunately it depicts a very emotionally distressed Elephant that has suffered years of abuse so that tourists are able to clamber aboard the Elephant without this largest land mammal going berserk.

Dear tourists please stay alert and please read all the facts below.

Elephant crushing or a training crush is a supposed method by which wild elephants can be tamed for domestication, using restriction in a cage, sometimes with the use of corporal punishment or negative reinforcement. Used for centuries to domesticate wild elephants, this torture training method is still accepted as the only viable training method for elephant handlers and is used in almost every elephant attraction in Thailand. And, once they have their souls stomped out, they are simply vessels entertaining people. They are chained.

People who visit Thailand — and other countries with elephant tourism — don’t realise the damage they cause these elephants when they support trekking camps, go to circuses or buy the paintings done by these creatures. Without knowing, they send a clear message to the elephant tourism industry that shows they support the torture these animals go through early in their life, as well as the horrific conditions they live in as cogs in the tourism wheel.

The process used to tame wild Elephants is called the elephant phajaan process. Below are some of the abusive regimes Elephants are put through jut to satisfy tourist demand in Thailand.

  • Still-nursing calves are forcibly separated from their mothers and placed into a tightly constricted pen known as a “crush”.
  • There they are tied down in such a way that they can’t move or turn around, and are unable to sit or even lie down.
  • Over the next several days they are deprived of food and water, and they’re not allowed to sleep.
  • Hour after hour, day after day, they are repeatedly beaten, burned, and stabbed with an array of crude weapons. Hit again and again over the head, back, and legs with bamboo sticks that have nails pushed through the ends, stabbed over and over in their delicate inner ears, struck repeatedly on their sensitive trunks — tortured in an unending variety of unimaginable ways.
  • The abuse continues until the baby Elephant stops crying for its mother and its captive keepers are happy that the soul of the baby Elephant has been removed. Commonly known as (Broken or crushed” baby Elephant will be so terrorized and fearful of being hurt further, it will submit to being trained. Bloodied and broken, the baby elephant is now ready to learn how to perform tricks and tasks with little protest.


Half of the elephants put through phajaan will die. Of those that survive, “About half will go mad,” says Elephant Nature Park founder Lek Chailert. “This brutality can make them aggressive and dangerous.” Still thinking of riding an Elephant this summer in Thailand? Think again as you the tourist that pays to ride on these splendid land mammals are no better than the captive keepers that perform daily abusive acts towards their non-human inmates to satisfy your demands.

Thailand’s current population of domesticated Elephants is about 2,700. After a precipitous decline from about 100,000 domesticated Elephants in 1850, numbers are now stable. About 95% of Thai Elephants are in private ownership. Wild Elephants in Thailand are very difficult to count given their dense, forested habitat, but most experts would agree there are between 2,000 3,000 wild Elephants.

In 1989 the Thai government banned all logging in protected areas, effectively closing all remaining natural forests. While undoubtedly a very wise choice, one unfortunate side effect was that it threw many logging elephants out of work. Luckily, that loss coincided with a rapid rise in tourism, which was able to employ many elephants. Today, probably more than half of Thai elephants work in tourism.

Thailand pumps a lot of propaganda into the public domain from which it states Animal Rights and Conservation groups are barking up the wrong tree. Elephants are apparently cared for and not abused at all. The Thai government travel and tourism sector quote;

Disturbingly, some overseas animal rights groups have argued that tourists should not visit elephant camps, claiming it promotes cruelty. In fact, most Thai elephants are very well cared for, partly because most Thai people are intrinsically kind and humane but also because elephants are simply too valuable to abuse. (A beautiful calf or a healthy, young breeding female is worth as much as 700,000 baht or US$22,000.) Although the camp to be visited should be carefully selected, the kindest thing that ethical, elephant-loving tourists can do is to visit a camp and enjoy elephants. Without work in tourism, elephant owners will have no means to care for their animals.

Let’s take a more in-depth look into this propaganda from which it’s stated “In fact, most Thai elephants are very well cared for, partly because most Thai people are intrinsically kind and humane but also because elephants are simply too valuable to abuse.

The Thai Elephant Conservation Centre actively promotes the abuse of Thai Elephants as well as denouncing any conservation or activist group that dares speak out against them.

A tourist that recently visited Thailand wrote the following, it makes very uneasy reading and completely de-bunks the so called humane treatment of Thai Elephants.

The unnamed tourist writes the following; We have highlighted areas within this email for your information.

I have just returned to Canada from a 4 week backpacking trip in Thailand. As with most backpackers who visit Thailand, part of my trip entailed a 3-4 day trek in Chiang Mai through the Doi Inthanon National Park & entailed an elephant trek. I was extremely apprehensive about this portion of our trek, and asked our guide Nikon “Dragon” repeatedly if the elephants were well treated, and he repeatedly tried consoling me by saying that the elephants were in fact well treated.

Upon arriving at the elephant camp, and was immediately overwhelmed by the sheer number of elephants (approx. 15 in total). The first thing I saw was a VERY young baby elephant chained by her neck to her mother’s neck, with about 6 feet of chain separating them. I immediately noticed that the mother of the baby had enormous large purple marks on her skull, with a clear wound located in the middle of the purple. This purple mark looked like iodine and it surrounded almost the entire one side of her upper skull. I asked our guide what the purple mark was, and he said it was for insect bites.


We were quickly ushered up on a platform where we were to get on the back of the designated elephant. Our group had a total of 12 people, so we required 6 elephants. Once our procession of elephants began to walk, I was able to turn around and view the other 5 elephants, and noticed that almost every one of the other elephants had the same large purple markings, with what looked like a hole / wound in the middle of the purple. Some elephants had these holes on both sides of their skulls.

Within the first 2 minutes of the trek, the elephants had to make their way down a rather steep decline in the embankment, and understandably the mother with her baby chained to her, was apprehensive of the embankment….most likely for the safety of her still awkward baby, more so than for herself. All of a sudden I heard banging and turned around the witness the mahout of one of the other elephants violently hitting the apprehensive mother with his pointy hammer like instrument directly on the area where the hole and purple iodine markings were on her skull. I immediately yelled at the top of my lungs for the mahout to stop hitting her, and my co-travellers quickly supported me. The mahout stopped hitting her, but it was a little too late, as we saw puss & blood being dispelled from the already pre-existing wound on the elephants skull. It was now painfully clear what the “insect bites” really were.

Because of our anger at the treatment of the elephant, the mahouts didn’t beat the elephants again in our presence. I desperately wanted to get off the elephant, but the mahout insisted that there was no place that I could get off safely, and was therefore forced to continue on one of the single most horrifying experiences of my life. I was so upset; I literally threw up, through my tears. I was forced to continue to watch the baby elephant being forced to climb embankments that were 4 times her height, while her mother desperately tried to help her up the embankment. This scene continued for 50 minutes

The grounds and path of the elephant camp was repulsive. The entire grounds and path were covered in several layers of elephant faeces, including the part of the grounds were the elephants were to eat. There was a pregnant elephant that was chained to a stump with no more than 4 feet of chain to move, and she was eating a small pile of bamboo sticks that laid upon the faeces laden ground. My heart broke for this gentle giant and the life that her baby was unknowingly about to be born into.

All of the elephants on the camp were chained, and there was one elephant in particular that looked in dreadful health. This particular elephant had the same purple iodine markings as the others at the camp, but he had the markings over his entire back spine area. Once I was able to get a little closer, I could see that he also had holes from the mahouts hammer instrument covering his entire spine (which was protruding). It was clear to me that this elephant was in very ill health.

Unfortunately I do not know the name of this particular camp, only where it was. I made complaints to our tour guide as well as the owner of the BMP Residence, and pleaded that they demand that the owners of the elephant camp better treat the elephants, or else they will no longer be able to bring tourists to their camp because they have received numerous complaints from travellers. The owner of the BMP Residence said he had a meeting with the owner of the camp the following week and said he would bring up my concerns at that time. My gut feeling is that the owner of the BMP Residence is also the owner of the elephants, as they owned both the property as well as the lodges that we stayed in during our entire trek.

elephant (1)

I apologize for the long email, but felt it important to make other travellers aware of the dreadful mistreatment of the elephants at the camp used by the BMP (Backpackers Meeting Place) in Chiang Mai. I am sure that there are Thais that treat their elephants with the loyalty, respect, and love that you would expect for Thailand’s “most sacred animal”, however they seem to be few and far between……or at least NOT used for tourist enjoyment.

International Animal Rescue Foundation.Org.Uk has been monitoring the abusive elephant mistreatment in Asia now for several years. What we are seeing is that many tourists are feeding this abusive culture without knowing how these Elephants are tamed and beaten in the process.  The laws that surround the welfare of Elephants within Thailand (example) are quite shady too, to say the least. Ceasing this barbaric torturous tourism attraction is going to prove difficult (within Thailand) from which we have highlighted some points below for your information.

The Draught Animal Act of 1939

Under The Draught Animal Act of 1939 (phrarachbanyat sat phahana, B.E. 2482) the domesticated elephant was specifically classified as a draft animal (sat phahana in formal Thai) along with the cow, water buffalo, horse, donkey, and the mule. The Act of 1939 was written at a time when domesticated elephants were still found in great numbers, certainly several tens of thousands. Responsibility for enforcing the 1939 Act necessarily fell to the Ministry of Interior, the ministry that controls the police, because one of the prime motivations for creating the law was to suppress the rampant theft of cattle and water buffalo – and elephants. Registration thus became the duty of the LAD and its provincial offices.

The 1939 Act is still in effect today, although updated by over fifty years of instructions on implementation called kot krasuang or ‘ministerial regulations’. From its inception The 1939 Act made it mandatory for all owners of draft animals to register their animals with the LAD. Draft animals are required to be registered at different ages according to the animal’s species and sex; the age for registration of elephants is “going into the eighth year,” the oldest by far for any animal. This provision specifying the age of mandatory registration is the only section of the 1939 Act (other than fees, which are paltry) in which the elephant is treated any differently from the cow, the water buffalo, or any other draft animal. Like them, the domesticated elephant is clearly considered to be private property.

The sole intent of the 1939 Act is to define the rights and obligations of ownership. Five sections deal with subjects such as changing ownership, using elephants for security for loans, moving domicile, registration fees, etc.

The greatest shortcoming of the 1939 Act for modern management purposes (beyond the difficult question of jurisdiction) is that it imposes no obligations on owners to treat elephants properly. There are no provisions prohibiting cruelty, overwork, or unsuitable employment. As stated by Lair (1988), “Elephants in Thailand are basically private property to be treated howsoever the owner wishes.” This conception of the elephant as property is mirrored in other government realms; to this day, in inter-ministerial understandings between the Ministries of Interior and Agriculture regarding property confiscated from illegal loggers, elephants are classified as upakorn (‘equipment’) along with oxen, trucks, chainsaws, walkie-talkies, etc.

The Draught Animal Act of 1939 quietly held steady for over fifty years with nobody giving a thought to the legal status of domesticated elephants. In the interval, two bodies of law applying to wild elephants were passed by the Thai Parliament and signed by the King. The first law, the Wild Elephant Protection Act of 1960, had absolutely no impact on domesticated elephants except a slight increase in the fee to capture a wild elephant. Lekagul and McNeely (1977c) imply that the major force of law remained with the prior Law for the Conservation of Elephants of 1921, the so-called ‘special law’, but that, “Unfortunately, even the special law is not well enforced.”

Note; The greatest shortcoming of the 1939 Act for modern management purposes (beyond the difficult question of jurisdiction) is that it imposes no obligations on owners to treat elephants properly. There are no provisions prohibiting cruelty, overwork, or unsuitable employment. As stated by Lair (1988), “Elephants in Thailand are basically private property to be treated howsoever the owner wishes.” This conception of the elephant as property is mirrored in other government realms.

The Wildlife Reservation and Protection Act of 1992

The passage of The Wildlife Reservation and Protection Act of 1992, however, soon provoked conservationists to turn their eyes to the status of the domesticated elephant. (The Act is in Thai called phrarachbanyat sanguan lae khumkhrong sat paa B.E. 2535, and is henceforth called ‘The Wildlife Protection Act of 1992’ or ‘The WPA of 1992’.) In 1994 an informal coalition of “elephant-loving NGOs” and environmentalists suggested that the domesticated elephant should be excluded from The Draught Animal Act of 1939 and included in The Wildlife Protection Act of 1992. The concept of applying to elephants in captivity a law devoted to protecting wild animals is very pleasing to conservationists, seeming to promise absolute protection.

The legal obstacle to bringing the domesticated elephant under The WPA of 1992 Act is that in defining ‘wild animal’ (sat paa), the Act very specifically states that the term does not apply to species required by The Draught Animal Act of 1939 to register as draft animals, nor to their offspring born in captivity. This exclusion is phrased very oddly indeed because while the law does not once use the word ‘elephant’, the elephant is clearly the animal intended because none of the other draft animals, all genetically altered for millennia, has a wild relative with which it could ever be confused. (Except just perhaps for the few remaining wild water buffalo, but even there the wild and domesticated animals have a quite different appearance.)

A close reading of The WPA of 1992 leads to two prime conclusions. First, in many instances the law, by Western standards, is not particularly clear, probably because traditionally such a law is seen primarily as a master framework on which to attach the ministerial regulations (kot krasuang) which define the duties required of civil servants. The intent of The Act of 1992 is not to establish premises on which to steadily build case law, the intent of most Western law.


Second, the intent of the parts of The WPA of 1992 pertaining to captive animals is to control the trade in protected wild animals (and the products derived thereof), and to regulate the captive breeding of protected wild animals by commercial businesses. These provisions were never designed or intended to apply to domesticated elephants, which in practical terms are little different from other draft animals except that elephants must normally move around to find work.

The possibility of using The WPA of 1992 to protect domesticated elephants poses so many complex questions that rather than lengthily examining both sides of many separate issues side by side, it makes sense to, perhaps exaggerating a bit, succinctly make the strongest possible arguments both for and against inclusion.

Arguments against the inclusion of domesticated elephants

A strong case can be made for why the domesticated elephant should not be included in The Wildlife Reservation and Protection Act of 1992. The WPA of 1992, just like The Draught Animal Act of 1939, has absolutely no provisions for penalties or confiscation in cases of owners conducting unsuitable work or severe overwork, much less mechanisms for preventing subtler forms of abuse such as premature weaning, keeping infants as solitaries, chaining elephants for long times, etc. Stipulations in The WPA of 1992 for licensing, breeding, buying, selling, and moving protected species would, if strictly applied to elephants, be not only extremely restrictive but, worse, ultimately unenforceable. The law divides wild animals into two types, “reserved wild animals” (sat paa sanguan) and “protected wild animals” (sat paa khum khrong), and for the elephants the nuances of enforcement would depend on how they were classified; the inclusion of domesticated elephants in the law might force Elephas maximus to be moved from “protected” to “reserved,” which is even more restrictive. Probably only wealthy entrepreneurs could meet many of The WPA of 1992’s requirements, and many conservationists and NGOs have questioned the domesticated elephant’s possible inclusion, fearing that some provisions could greatly impair the owners’ and mahouts’ ability to make a living. The provisions on travel, for example, could be interpreted to require owners to seek the written permission of the Director General of the RFD for any “transitory movement,” which makes good sense for rare animals or animals destined for international trade but would clearly be ludicrous every time a domesticated elephant left home. Even more unreasonable, strict enforcement would subject thousands of elephant owners to a lengthy licensing procedure before they could breed their elephants. Most absurd, if applied to the letter of the law, the 1992 Act would seem to require owners, mostly poor villagers, to surrender their elephants to the RFD; owners who refused would be committing a crime. Such an extreme will never happen, both because the RFD could not provide for over 3,000 elephants and also because such a mass confiscation is the goal of neither the law, nor the RFD, nor of society at large. Nonetheless, if, as many people wish, domesticated elephants were included and the law strictly applied, The Wildlife Protection Act of 1992 would be a nightmare not just for thousands of owners of domesticated elephants in Thailand, but also for the RFD.

Arguments for the inclusion of domesticated elephants

An equally good case can be made to explain why the domesticated elephant should be included in The Wildlife Reservation and Protection Act of 1992. Placement alongside wild elephants feels conceptually and morally right. One very useful aspect of The WPA of 1992 is that it requires licences and the RFD would thus be empowered to scrutinize owners for suitability, a screening procedure impossible under The Draught Animal Act of 1939, where anybody who comes along must be registered. One RFD official {Tunhikorn, 1996} pointed out that bringing all elephants under the 1992 law would close the loophole of easily absorbing illegally captured wild elephants, calves in particular, into the domesticated population; he added that another loophole closed would be the ability of people with fresh ivory to protest that it came from a domesticated elephant, a problem that has left Thailand open to criticism on CITES grounds. As for strictness of application, it can be argued that The WPA of 1992 need not be so restrictive as described in the section above because several provisions give the Director General great leeway in determining policy {Srikrajang, 1996}. Section 26 in particular allows the DG to waive some of the most restrictive aspects if the intent for keeping a wild animal is to survey, conduct research, protect, or breed wild animals. Another beneficial effect of inclusion of domesticated elephants would be greater involvement by NGOs, given the RFD’s long and productive history of working with private organizations. The empowerment of the RFD would also facilitate a seamless interface between the management of the wild and domesticated elephant subpopulations.

An elephant is being transported in a truck from Taungoo towards Bago

Objective analysis of the opposing arguments above shows that neither law is appropriate. Clearly, to adapt either The Wildlife Protection Act of 1992 or The Draught Animal Act of 1939 to protect and manage domesticated elephants would not only be incredibly complicated but would also violate the spirit of either law. The Draught Animal Act of 1939 could more easily be amended, but only by lengthily giving special privileges to one eccentric and aristocratic species amongst a barnyard of more plebeian animals. It would be much more appropriate and efficient to write a special law devoted solely to the domesticated elephant’s unique needs.

One class of domesticated elephants does indisputably deserve full legal protection by the RFD under both The Wildlife Protection Act of 1992 and CITES: elephants smuggled illegally into Thailand. Wildlife law for these elephants takes clear precedence over the law on draft animals. But in any case the RFD lacks the vast resources needed to police this shadowy trade, and very few elephants smuggled in from Myanmar, Cambodia, or the Lao PDR have been confiscated by the RFD. Outside of its own prescribed areas, the RFD is poorly equipped to do law enforcement.

Tourism contributions / Elephants in entertainment and tourism

In 1994 Thailand was visited by 6,166,496 tourists who brought 127.8 billion baht (just over five billion US dollars) of foreign exchange into the Thai economy (Muqbil, 1995). Not surprisingly, tourism has put many elephants to work, mostly working in shows or giving rides to tourists, both foreigners and middle-class Thais.

Three areas each have several entertainment venues offering shows: Bangkok, Pattaya, and the north, cantered around Chiang Mai. Thailand never having had a circus tradition, all performances fall far below the standards of a circus in Europe, North America, or India. Shows performed in the Bangkok area are fairly polished, shows in Pattaya often a bit rough, and the shows in the north are always downright rudimentary except for a polished demonstration of traditional logging at the FIO’s Thai Elephant Conservation Centre. Many of the elephants at show venues, especially in the north, do not perform at all but rather give rides or simply stand around as set-dressing.

Approximately 300 elephants are employed at fixed show venues, about 85 in Bangkok and Pattaya and at least 220 in the north. This is approaching 10% of Thailand’s total population, indicating both the importance and the limits of tourism and entertainment as elephant work. (As for wandering shows in rural regions, their numbers are anybody’s guess.)

In the north there are three large venues with about 40 to 50 elephants each and many smaller ones. The largest venues in the Bangkok-Pattaya area have only about 20 elephants, and an educated guess would say that about half the elephants are owned by the proprietor of the venue while the other half are owned by mahouts working under contract. Generally speaking, elephants working at central region show venues are well cared for and the mahouts receive reasonable pay, the contracted elephants with the most behaviors or ‘tricks’ pulling in as much as 30,000 baht (US$1,200) a month.

In the north, the situation is not nearly so happy. At the larger show venues, most proprietors are purely businessmen out to cash in on the tourist dollar. Two or three places would seem to have the big money cornered, being swarmed everyday by tour buses and minivans; smaller venues depend on a drop-in clientele consisting of budget travellers and people with their own transportation. Many proprietors decide it makes more business sense to buy elephants than to endlessly waste good money paying mahout-owners, and one proprietor now owns about 90 elephants. Ownership by businessmen is generally bad for elephants since businessmen will rarely have either the ability or the conscience to hire good mahouts, pay them well, and then supervise them carefully.

Sadly, there are relatively few traditional northern Thai mahouts still working, most of them having graduated to better jobs. Many show venue owners hire tribal, often illegal immigrants, some with prior elephant experience and some without. Most often Karen but occasionally Shan, illegal-immigrant mahouts from Myanmar are particularly desperate and will work very cheaply, as low as meals and 500 baht (US$20) a month. Proprietors can easily squeeze illegals, being able to provide protection from the police. Even mahout-owners under contract are easily squeezed because of fierce competition for work; very few mahout-owners make more than 10,000 baht (US$400) a month out of an elephant in northern Thailand. Mahout-owners working on contract must pay for all supplementary food and veterinary care.

There is no insurance, whether for visitors, mahouts, or elephants. In one tragic instance known to the author, a mahout-owner and his family brought their elephant to give rides under contract at a barely developed performance venue at Mae Sa valley, near Chiang Mai. In the very first week, the elephant slipped off a dangerously steep walking path and fell to its death. The proprietor, although quite wealthy, gave the family 500 baht (US$20), just enough for bus fare home, and sent them packing.

View more here http://www.fao.org/docrep/005/ac774e/ac774e0h.htm#bm17..15.5.1

Elephants are seen as sacred within Thailand. Elephants were not only used in war and transportation, but are also worshipped as sacred animals in Thailand according to beliefs transferred from India. In sacred Buddhist texts, it is said that elephants are important, powerful, very patient, intelligent, and good at remembering and familiar with people.  Tourists visiting Thailand and other countries in Asia need to understand that their money directly supports and legitimizes these abuses. If you visit a trekking camp and ride Elephants, if you give money to an Elephant begging on the street, if you buy a picture painted by an Elephant, you are directly contributing to a cycle of violence and terror.

Things to remember when thinking of riding Elephants or contributing to Elephant amusement in Thailand;

  1. Visiting trekking camps and rising Elephants – contributes to more Elephants being abused.
  2. Donating money to tenders/Elephants begging on the streets – contributes to increased fear and violence within the entertainment business.
  3. Purchasing pictures painted by Elephants – contributes to more Elephants beaten/crushed/broken for your entertainment.
  4. Tipping Elephant mahouts – directly contributes to purchasing of torture equipment used to crush Elephants.  

Camps that actively abuse Elephants within Thailand;

  • Elephant camp at Chiang Rai 
  • Elephant camp at Ruammit village

International Animal Rescue Foundation.Org.Uk has begun targeting its awareness campaign at specific international citizens known to be frequenting Thailand the most based on travel and tourism investigations from 2012-2013. On investigating the tourism market and the animal rights community it was seen that most awareness campaigns seem to be aimed at the wrong people or awareness is published in mostly English. Below are some facts for your information that may help you too in creating a more direct awareness campaign aimed at those that are frequenting Thailand aiding Elephant abuse more.

Most recent up to date tourism statistics from 2012-2013 and who to target awareness at;

  • Chinese tourists from 2012-2013 – 2.7 million
  • Malaysian tourists from 2012-2013 – 2.5 million
  • Russian tourists from 2012-2013 – 1.3 million
  • Japanese tourists from 2012-2013 – 1.3 million
  • Korean tourists from 2012-2103 – 1.1 million
  • British tourists from 2012-2013 – 870,164 thousand
  • German tourists from 2012-2103 – 681,566 thousand
  • America and Canada was below  – 100,000 thousand
  • Some 22 million tourists visited Thailand from 2012-2103

Whist the “some” Elephant camps located all over Asia and within Africa are actually non-abusive regrettably the majority of them are. While some are doing good work, the vast majority of Elephant camps are commercial enterprises, making money from tourists keen to have their photos taken with the young ones, bathing with the Elephants or riding them, or watching them paint.

Some camps even dress up their Elephants and have them perform unnatural and demeaning tricks, all in the name of entertainment. But beyond the happy smiles of tourists posing with Elephants, there is a hidden dark reality, of murder, smuggling and torture for the calves on show.  The booming Thai tourist industry is fuelling a huge illegal trade in baby Elephants that are taken from the wild in Burma, beaten, starved and tortured to break their spirit before being paraded in front of fee-paying holidaymakers. WHY tourists still ignore the basic and in-depth evidence of abuse, smuggling, and torture is beyond us.

What the TOURIST needs to remember before parting with hard earned cash to elephant ringers.

~Mail investigations –

  • Fact – It is estimated that for every calf smuggled across Burma’s 1,200-mile border with Thailand, up to five adult female and adolescent elephants from the calf’s immediate family group are gunned down in cold blood. Your money funds this. 
  • Fact – The forests of Burma are one of the last strongholds for Asian elephants and second only to India. But such is the scale of the trade, it is thought that the endangered wild elephant population there – estimated at up to 5,000 individuals – could be wiped out or damaged beyond repair within ten years or so. Your money is funding this trade.
  • Fact – While African elephants and ivory have dominated discussions on conservation, very little attention has been given to the Asian elephant.  Why, because your money goes directly into funding an abusive regime that you believe is “sweet and cuddly”.
  • Fact – Baby calves undergo a cruel, spirit-breaking ritual where the baby calves will be tied up, with no food and water, and beaten relentlessly for days on end. Your money funds this and purchases more Elephants to be beaten and crushed.Fact – very often the calves will die from their injuries or from stress, starvation or the sheer heartbreak of seeing their family killed in front of their eyes. After they have been taught to be afraid of humans, the calves that do survive are smuggled across Thailand. When they reach the tourist elephant parks, many of them will be chained to a surrogate mother in an attempt to suggest they have been bred in captivity. Your money funds this.
  • Fact – The current market price for a healthy broken-in baby elephant is £14,000 to £20,000 and with the rapid growth of tourism and demand for elephants in entertainment – we calculate the tourism industry in Thailand employs up to 2,000 elephants – there are strong incentives for the trade. Your money is funding the purchase of more Elephants.
  • Fact – If Thailand’s brutal baby elephant trade is not ended soon, Asia’s last remaining populations of wild elephants in Burma may be lost for ever. Your money and YOU will if this occurs contribute to the extinction of the Asian Elephant.

Still want to ride an Elephant?

Sign the petitions below and please report all acts of Elephant cruelty in Thailand to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (Cites), the Environmental Investigations Agency (EIA) and local and international Conservation NGO’s (Non-Governmental Organisations).

Petitions to sign please share this document and sign all petitions SHOUT the word out to your friends and family that are visiting Thailand this year to not participate or contribute to Elephant cruelty.









Contact the Prime Minister of Thailand here via Twitter and Facebook. Politely ask Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra https://twitter.com/PouYingluck to take action to cease illegal smuggling of Elephants from Burma into Thailand and to cease all Elephant crushing and tourist activities that see many Elephants brutalised.

Contact the Prime Minister via Facebook too – https://www.facebook.com/Y.Shinawatra

International Animal Rescue Foundation’s publication team takes great care and pride to proof read all documents before publication. Should you notice an error please be most kind to inform us via the address below. Thank you.



One response

  1. As the admin of this site is working, no question very quickly it will be
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    April 7, 2014 at 8:03 am

Thank you for your reply, should it merit a response we will respond in due course. This site is owned by International Animal Rescue Foundation and moderation is used.

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