CHIANG RAI – The Friends of the Asian Elephant Foundation has launched a petition to pressure the government to get elephants off city streets throughout the country.
Friends of the Asian Elephant Foundation founder Soraida Salwala said the FAE has been campaigning for a ban on elephants being used to make money in urban areas since 1995, but little has been done to stop the abuse.
Typically, handlers will take elephants to urban areas and charge tourists and locals to feed the animals or have their pictures taken with them. While largely absent from Bangkok streets, elephants are still found in other urban areas in tourist centres, such as Chiang Mai.
Ms Soraida said the foundation is seeking 20,000 signatures for a petition to be submitted to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
Ms Soraida said the hospital operated by the FAE, which marked its 21st anniversary on Saturday, has treated more than 3,000 elephants since its inception and currently has six under its care.
Friends of the Asian Elephant is a registered non-government organisation in Thailand that aims to protect and conserve the welfare of elephants – both domesticated and wild. Founded in 1993 by Soraida Salwala, the organisation has successfully lobbied the Government to stop the illegal logging of Thailand’s rainforest and have elephants taken off the streets in cities where they are in a completely unnatural environment and in danger of injury from vehicles. Many of these elephants have now been taken to the southern Thai province of Surin where they can once again live in more natural surroundings.
FAE aims to:
• Assist elephants to enjoy improved living conditions and eventually survive in their unnatural surroundings.
• Help professionals related to elephants – mahouts, raisers, researchers, vets.
• Gather data on elephants and produce public reports on the condition of elephants across the country.
FAE’s elephant hospital provides free medical care and transportation for all elephants. Some of the elephants brought to the hospital have been very poorly treated by their owners or have suffered horrendous injuries through incidents such as stepping on land mines. As part of their trip to Northern Thailand, many Intrepid Travel groups visit the Lampang Elephant Centre and can see first hand the great work of FAE at the hospital. The hospital is encouraging mahouts (elephant trainers) to bring their expecting elephants to the hospital to give birth. Mother elephants very often kill their newborn babies (especially. those that are domesticated). With a nursery there will be attached accommodation for the mahout so he can spend every moment with her. Donations made to the Friends of the Asian Elephant will help fund a nursery.