Thai elepants have been highly praised and nationally proclaimed throughout history. There were more than 50,000 elephants in Thailand but now there are only less than 5,000 elephants. It shows that the number of Thai elephants is gradually decreasing. The threats against Thai elephants come only from human exploitation. Direct threats including poaching for ivory and elephant calves and roaming the city streets for money. Indirect threats involve mismanagement and shortsighted policies, such as deforestation for agriculture, industrial plantation or road construction.

The forest area in Thailand has reduced from 80 percent in 1957 to approximately less than 20 percent in 1992, largely because of deforestation. Although logging was banned, 70 percent of the forest area had already disappeared and illegal logging continues. Shifting cultivation by tribal villagers, dam and road constructions, even gas pipelines and pineapple plantations, as well as resort developments in forest reserve areas, have all added to the devastation. These inappropriate developments continue to deprive elephants of their natural habitat and feeding grounds, force them to migrate into dangerous areas, and lead to conflicts between elephants seeking food and plantation owners – such conflicts usually end with more elephants being poisoned or killed. Besides, Thai elephant trainers still believe in excessive force like tight cuffs on all four legs to discipline young calves and the use of a spike hammer for punishment. Thai domesticated elephants are ordered to stand on two front legs or on a small box to entertain tourists and locals. These elephants will likely have bone disorders when older. Baby elephants are forced to perform on the street for money. Some of these have been smuggled in from the wild. If so, that means their parents may have been killed in process. Other incident involving mistreated elephants and threats to public safety include elephants going on the rampage in the city, attacks on owners and villagers, traffic accidents, etc.

So, we need to protect them from extinction by prohibit all products made out of elephant parts, including ivory, skin, bone and all organs from both live and dead elephants regardless of elephant origin and the cause of death. Ban elephants roaming the streets and provide appropriate careers for the mahouts. Regulate elephant businesses to ensure a fair contract for the mahouts. This will eliminate the elephant loaning business for beggary, and protect elephant welfare and public safety. Restrict further development in forest land. Any project that would affect the ecosystem must be prevented or revoked. There must exist the resolve to stop giving in to financial interests, local or national, when conservation is at risk.

 

Prae#29

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