When it comes to the ethical treatment of animals, there are many different layers to consider and therefore many different beliefs that exist. Discover Corps went into the field to learn about the complex question of elephant tourism from those who have been working with the elephants for generations – the mahouts in Thailand.
In short, we do not support elephant riding in any way, shape, or form. However, we believe that the problem is not so black and white, and in fact, focusing only on elephant riding is doing a disservice to the animals, the travelers seeking to understand them, and the conservationists working to protect them.
“Now, the biggest problem we face is that in the past, there was plenty of space for the elephants to graze and feed. Now there is a lot less space, and local laws do not allow them to graze on public land [..] so it can be difficult to find them enough food.” – Boon, Head Mahout at the Elephant Nursery
We believe that travelers need to vote with their dollars by going to truly ethical camps, the mahout tradition needs to be celebrated, governments, companies, and citizens need to prioritize proper care to establish standards, and we must work to restore lost habitat.
Watch the video below and get to know the mahouts from our Thailand: The Baby Elephant Experience, and write any questions in the comments!