In order to round out my elephant sightings, I visited the Thai Elephant Conservation Center, the government-sponsored elephant center that neighbors the FAE Elephant Hospital. I had received some mixed reviews about it prior to my visit, but seeing it with my own eyes (and camera), I found it to be very similar to a zoo or animal park in the United States. They feature an Elephant Show, Elephant Riding, Day-long or Month-long Mahout Training, an Elephant Hospital and an Elephant Dung Papermaking facility.
In the afternoon, I interviewed Richard Lair, a San Francisco native who has lived in Thailand for several decades and works as an international adviser to the TECC. He told me that the key to the Thai Asian Elephant’s future is tourism. Because logging was outlawed in Thailand in 1989, there are few viable jobs left for the captive elephants, which are expensive to keep. It then comes down to what kinds of “work” or activities tourists want to see and what kinds of camps they support.
All the more reason for tourists to educate themselves about the different types of camps and atrtactions they can see in Thailand, if elephants are on their wish lists.
I’m in Thailand for 2 more days, so please continue to stay tuned. For now I’ll leave you with two pictures from FAE. We were so close, I had to stop by and see Motala, Mosha and Namfom before I depart for the states.
Producer, Writer and Director, The Eyes of Thailand