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A video that secretly captured a distressed baby elephant jabbed by bullhooks at an elephant camp in Thailand has enraged Netizens worldwide. The footage, taken on a hidden camera last year and published by UK-based animal rights group World Animal Protection (WAP).
The footage shows what they say is the forced separation of a two-year-old female baby elephant from her mother.
The distraught baby elephant is confined to a small space known as the “crush box.” Its held by chains and ropes for days as she struggles to escape. The baby elephant ais repeatedly jabbed with a bullhook, a long rod with a sharpened metal tip. Its designed get the baby elephant to understand basic commands.
Sometimes bullhooks cause bleeding if the elephants training is to rough
About 3,500 domesticated elephants work in Thailand’s tourism sector. The elephants are used for rides and performing tricks for travellers.
Animal rights activists have long argued that elephants endure abuse in the tourism industry. Starting with the so-called “crush” process to tame them when young.
Jan Schmidt-Burbach, a wildlife veterinarian with WAP say “We need to ensure that this is the last generation of elephants used for commercial tourism.” WAP has not released details of the location of the elephant camp. Above all to avoid repercussions for the people who shot the video.
Thousands of Elephants head to northern Thailand
To avoid starvation as covid-19 halts global travel, Thousands of elephants are back in their home villages with their handlers. Elephants threatened by starvation have journeyed through the hills of northern Thailand. Making a slow migration home from tourist sites forced shut by the pandemic across Thailand.
Home for some of the animals is the northern village of Huay Pakoot. Where generations of ethnic Karen mahouts — or elephant handlers — have been rearing the giant mammals for four centuries.
Homecoming of Elephants is not without problems
The northern Thailand village Huay Pakoot normally has fewer than 10 elephants in it. Today, more than 90 are living alongside 400 villagers.
The vast forests surrounding the village have been cleared to make room for the cultivation of corn. Due to farming there is nothing to support the needs of such a large herd. “The whole village is actually not ready to handle them,” Theerapat said.
While some sleep behind homes, most of the elephants remain in the forest at night, watched over by their mahouts.
But sometimes they escape and roam around farm property, risking getting hurt by people trying to defend their crops. Conflicts between territorial elephants have also already been reported, with at least two injured in a fight, Theerapat added.
For mahouts who made the long journey home to avoid starvation themselves, finding 300 kilograms (650 pounds) of plants for each elephant — their average daily diet — is a challenge.
Buying sufficient feed instead can cost roughly 500 baht daily ($15), said 19-year-old mahout. “More grass, bananas, and sugarcane” crops will have to be planted if the outbreak goes on much longer, he added.
Many glad the elephants are home
There is also concern that desperate mahouts might turn to the illegal logging industry, which operates around the Thai-Myanmar border.
Theerapat warned that every family’s budget in the village is near its end.
But some are hopeful that the crisis might jump start a reflection on the unregulated and often brutal nature of animal tourism — a large, lucrative contributor to Thailand’s economy.
Mahout Sinchai Joroenbunpod, 37, whose animals have never worked in a tourist camp, said he was overjoyed about the homecoming of the other elephants — some he had not seen in years. “I grew up with them — they are like my brothers and sisters.”