The Dark Side of Thailand Tourism

Vacation time! Animal lovers the world over choose their travel destinations to include up-close and personal wildlife experiences. There are plenty of options. Today it is important more than ever to be  educated and vigilant about what our tourism money is funding.

Thailand- Tourists come to Thailand for the opportunity of close encounters with the elephants. Cute baby elephants on the beach, riding baby ele on beachelephants through the trees, getting photos taken with them for vacation memories to display on the mantel at home. Yet this image of the gentle giants is cruelly deceptive. Some places even hide behind the guise of being sanctuaries or conservancies leaving people with the impression they are in fact helping the animals.

The Thai tourism industry is actually fueling the illegal trade in baby elephants and is responsible for the death and diminishing numbers of their species. Taken from the wild in Burma, they are beaten, starved and tortured with the intention of breaking their spirits in order to remain docile for the tourists.riding eles

At least 50-100 babies are ripped away from their families every year. It is estimated that for every calf taken, there are 5 adult females and adolescent elephants from the baby’s immediate family who are slaughtered-gunned down in cold blood-so the baby can be easily taken.

They are “trained” to “play” with the tourists on the beach or in the water, provide rides, perform tricks, and are even dressed in ridiculous outfits to humanize them. This takes place in resorts. One resort “The Golden Triangle Elephant Camp and Resort” who claims to help with elephant conservation,  advertises the opportunity to learn to “drive” an elephant or for a little extra you can learn how to be a mahout trainee and command them. Then there’s always elephant yoga.street ele

It’s not just the resorts. Babies are also being used by individuals in the city. They are forced by their owners to live and work in an urban environment, roaming the streets begging tourists for money. They teach the babies tricks, give photo opportunities, and even sell over priced fruit to passers-by so they may feed the animals.

Elephants are not designed for concrete jungles. This is why in zoos and in the situation of city living, they suffer from foot problems, sunstroke, dehydration, gastric and respiratory problems. In addition, there is always the complication of traffic; at one point there were up to 20 elephants a month being involved in traffic accidents. There are many who simply collapse on the street, and one even fell into a manhole.

So how do you know if  a resort is safe or animal friendly? Bottom line-if what the elephants are doing is not something they do in the wild, it’s wrong. They do not provide rides for anyone, or paint or do tricks or pose for photos. By giving these people your money, you might as well be holding the bullhook that beats the animals into submission. Please be aware of where you go and keep the elephants safe.

elephant training

Typical elephant training to break their spirits and “tame” them.

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

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15 thoughts on “The Dark Side of Thailand Tourism

  1. Ugh. That last photo made me sick. Thank you for the stern warning. I was at a circus in China, and I can easily tell those animals (including the elephants) were not happy.

    • Glad I could forewarn you MaitoMike! It’s easy (especially for the animal lovers out there) to think they’re cute and fall into it, but the reality for them is so much darker 😦

  2. Reblogged this on bearspawprint.

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  4. Sandeep

    Thanks for sharing this and warning potential tourists and when I say tourists, I mean mostly Western tourists as it is their dollars, Pounds, Marks & Francs etc after which these people are, since they are the ones most likely to travel to these destinations as also where the real money is. However this will reach a small fraction of the people and we need to share, advertise , reblog etc to as many people as possible. Evidently Poaching, cruelty, Ivory trade and so many things are inter-related. I am going to share it on
    Facebook and with my friends. The wider we share, the more conscientious people we can warn. Also, Thailand Tourism advertises heavily during certain major sporting events every year one of which is about to commence in a few weeks. I hope they can be approached / requested, since they are a government entity, to stop using Elephants in their advertisements.

    • Agreed. Unfortunately money talks, and the more well-to-do are the ones contributing to so much animal cruelty: canned hunts, elephant exploitation, the tigers (Tiger Temple in Thailand), etc. It’s imperative not only to educate all the potential tourists, but to find the affluent people who also have a conscious and can help battle this.

  5. Pingback: The Dark Side of Thailand Tourism | Earthling ZA

  6. Pingback: Be Wary Animal Lovers | Fight for Rhinos

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