are the largest living land mammals on Earth. Thai history is rich in elephant
lore and this venerable beast and plays a major role in Thai culture. Ancient
Siam (Thailand) was constantly at war and in warfare of that day elephants had
a tactical importance similar to that of tanks today. As a beast of burden,
the elephant is not a great success, for the average load it can carry is no more
than about 600 pounds (270kg), though it is claimed that the Japanese, during
World War II, loaded four tons of ammunition on individual animals. After a day's
work an elephant needs to be released into the forest and allowed feed itself
for much of the night to ingest the necessary 350-Kg of vegetation required for
an adult. It is when foraging for the more nutritious food that can only be found
in forested areas that elephants often clash with local villagers and farmers.
For example, elephants are fond of pineapple and are apparently delighted to find
them planted in neat rows, irritated farmers have been known to poison or shoot
the elephants for damaging fences and crops.
It is estimated that at least
several thousand elephants are now being used by illegal logging operations that
have sprung up since Thailand banned legal logging a decade ago. Today, many unscrupulous
operators drug the elephants to make them work harder. No law protects these majestic
beasts from cruelty at the hands of their owners despite the fact that Thailand's
former national symbol is now an endangered species. Many underfed elephants addicted
to amphetamines die or suffer horribly as a result of cruelty and ignorance.
have been in the news a lot lately, and none of it has been good: elephants being
poisoned for raiding pineapple farms, elephants being fed amphetamines to make
them work harder, rogue elephants being shot dead; an elephant killed an Australian
The following article appeared in the Bangkok Post on December
19,1997 and is unfortunately very common.
An autopsy on a bull elephant
that died of shock in Hang Chat district has revealed that it died of overwork
Preecha Puangkham, a veterinarian from the Elephant Hospital,
said that the elephant which died in a rice field in Ban Na Bua, died of shock
because it was worked too hard. The animal also suffered from malnutrition, lack
of rest and a changing climate.
According to the autopsy, Plai Ek, the 20-year-old
bull elephant, suffered internal bleeding in its major organs including the heart,
brain, liver and abdomen.
"From my experience, I can say that it might
have died of shock as its heart was found to have much fat. This showed that it
had earlier worked too hard. Congestion of the blood in important organs caused
Plai Ek to have convulsions," Mr Preecha said.
On the hypothesis made
by villagers that the elephant was poisoned, he said the hospital had to wait
for the results of an autopsy from the Northern Veterinary Research and Diagnostic
Centre before making a final conclusion, adding it is expected the details will
be made public on Monday.
He also voiced concern that more than 30 elephants,
used for illegal logging in the same area where Plai Ek lived, might be at risk.
to Mr Preecha, the Elephant Hospital will keep a close watch on more than 50 sick
elephants under its care to prevent them from infection until it is certain that
Plai Ek did not die of a communicable disease.
SAFARI NATURE TOURS CO.,LTD.
17/2 Soi Yod Sane, Moo 10, Chalong,
Phuket, 83130 Thailand
Tel: 280 116
Fax: 280 107
Fax:+66 76 280 107,
The first elephant treks on Phuket were along jungle
trails on their property in the hills above Ao Chalong. Also a strong advocate
in practicing Eco-Tourism 'Siam Safari has won numerous awards from the travel
industry and from the Tourism Authority of Thailand.