Published on : Wednesday, April 1, 2020
Elephant tourism is one of the biggest attractions for tourists in Thailand. Back in the year 2017, nearly 3000 elephants were employed in the tourism sector. Over the years, elephants have long been used to entertain tourists. However, due to the adverse effects of the coronavirus crisis in the global tourism industry, the number of tourists has drastically dropped. This has rendered many of these elephants unemployed.
Thailand’s tourism industry has been harshly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic similar to the rest of the world. The massive decrease in global travel has deserted numerous tourist destinations in Thailand. Elephant tourism has also inevitably crippled for the moment.
As a result of the downfall, the elephant handlers are now unable to pay for their upkeep. They are facing a lot of difficulties to provide for their food and maintenance.
Theerapat Trungprakan, President, Thai Elephant Alliance Association said in a recent press statement that there is a risk that elephants could now be used in illegal logging activities along the Thai-Myanmar border. Recently, elephants were seen standing in a long queue tethered by their feet to wooden poles. Some of those elephants adorned a distressed look. A lack of food is now feared to be aggravating them. Wages of the elephant handlers have also reportedly seen a decrease of 70%.
However, the shutdown has also been beneficial for some elephants. Elephants at the Maesa Elephant Camp in Chiang Mai were allowed to roam around freely after the park closed down. For the first time in years, they could enjoy a stroll without carrying a human on their backs. The park’s director has also promised to make an effort in order to educate visitors regarding why riding an elephant is cruel. This initiative would be undertaken once the place reopens after the trying time of the coronavirus crisis.