Rampant breeding of elephants for commercial use combined with the downturn in tourism has led to a situation where vital resources are lacking to maintain the approximately 2,500 elephants in these camps. Keepers (or mahouts) are struggling to afford food for their elephants. There is now a high-risk that elephants will starve, or their owners might feel pressure to use them for logging (hard labour) or for begging.
To compound the situation, it is Thailand’s hottest, driest period of the year and in some areas the forest's supply of natural foliage is completely depleted. Without incoming funds to source supplementary food, elephants are unable to graze and forage adequately.
World Animal Protection will provide food and supplements
While government aid initiatives are not yet decided, World Animal Protection’s appeal aims to provide struggling elephant venues with food and supplements.
Caring for an elephant first and foremost means providing large amounts of food daily. They require about 10% of their body weight in food every day - that’s up to 400 kg of grass, leaves, fruits and vegetables that need to be paid for and transported. Some elephants also require supplements. Without immediate help, these captive elephants are sadly at risk of malnutrition and starvation.
Elephants should be in the wild
These elephants are already victims of a wildlife trade that separates them from their mothers and families at a very young age - destined for a life of suffering. Now they are facing starvation and a lack of basic medicine.
As the world shuts down due to COVID-19 and the tourism industry dries up, it’s wild animals that should never have been in captivity in the first place that will suffer. They are being left neglected and starving. Elephants and other wild animals trapped in the tourist entertainment industry haven’t chosen to live in cruel captivity.
Melissa Matlow, Campaign Director at World Animal Protection Canada said:
"These are challenging times, but our work to protect animals never stops. Placing complex, intelligent and endangered elephants at the whim of a fluctuating commercial tourism industry to survive is cruel and unacceptable. Elephants and the many other wild animals kept in captivity never chose this life. We hope Canadians will support our emergency appeal and campaign to end the trade and exploitation of wildlife."