Extraordinary Elephants and Thailand

One of the most striking aspects of visiting Thailand is getting a chance to view and interact with Thailand’s majestic and exotic wildlife. When you are staying at the Summer Estate’s luxury beachfront pool villa on Natai Beach, you will find yourself ideally situated to experience the wildlife of this beautiful country. Thailand is host to a variety of exotic species of animals, many of which can be easily viewed within close proximity to our picturesque Natai Beach pool villa. Phang Nga, as well as the neighboring provinces of Phuket, Krabi, and Surat Thani, have serval national parks and wildlife tours for you to appreciate the animals of Thailand. There is one animal in particular that holds great appreciation and importance to Thailand and its history: the majestic elephant.

Historical Use of Elephants 

For centuries elephants have played a significant role in Thailand as these majestic creatures and considered sacred. Elephants are often associated with strength, power, and wisdom in Thai society. These beautiful animals have a deep history with Thailand and its prosperity.

There are two species of elephants in Thailand: The Asian elephant and the Sumatran elephant. The Asian elephant is the more prevalent of the two species found in Thailand. Historically these elephants were used for transportation, trade, warfare, and logging establishing the importance that these creatures have for Thailand. Elephants have played an important role for Thai prosperity, dating back thousands of years, and elephants have long been associated with Thai Royalty.

Throughout much of the 19th and 20th centuries, these powerful and majestic creatures were utilized for the logging industry in Thailand. By possessing great strength, elephants could haul heavy logs through dense jungles. It wasn’t their strength alone that made them valuable for this industry, but also their intelligence and agility would allow for cooperation with their mahouts (human-elephant handlers) with moving through challenging terrain.

Elephants were crucial for the logging industry in Thailand, in particular for the harvesting of teak, a wood in high demand for its durability and resistance to decay. The economic benefits of the logging industry placed a lot of importance on the elephant in Thailand, however, this practice had some adverse environmental impacts on the country. The extensive practice of logging often led to a loss of biodiversity and disruption to ecosystems due to deforestation.

The ecological impact that logging had on the environment led to many concerns over commercial logging. Not only were ecosystems and animal habitats being disrupted but the practice of using elephants in logging led to a decline in the elephant population. These concerns led to the Thailand government issuing a nationwide ban on commercial logging in 1989 in an effort to protect the ecosystem and biodiversity of Thailand.

After the nationwide ban on commercial logging and the use of elephants for this work, many working elephant and their mahouts faced unemployment. The logging ban led to a shift in the role of working elephants in tourism. Today elephants in Thailand can be seen performing in shows or made to give rides to tourists. Many of these types of tourist activities can be found throughout Thailand and have become very popular with tourists visiting Thailand. A lot of those visiting cannot resist the urge to get as close as possible to these majestic creatures. There are however many ethical concerns that have been raised for the welfare of the animals who have been forced to participate in these activities. These concerns have led to the growing demand that more ethical and responsible experiences be provided for tourists visiting Thailand with regard to interacting with elephants.

Sanctuaries and Conservation Efforts

As more and more travelers to Thailand, conscious of animal welfare, seek experiences that prioritize the well-being of the elephants, shows, and rides have seen a decline in demand. However, elephant sanctuaries have become increasingly popular among tourists visiting Thailand. Some of these sanctuaries take a more ethical approach to provide interaction with elephants which include

  • Rescue and Rehabilitation
  • Providing safe natural habitat for elephants
  • Education and Awareness
  • Volunteer programs
  • Support for local communities.

Many of these elephants residing in sanctuaries have been rescued from abusive owners who exploited these animals for shows and rides. These sanctuaries provide a safe and natural habitat for large areas of land where they can roam free, interact with each other, and engage in their natural behaviors.

The elephant sanctuaries provide education and awareness programs that aim to inform visitors of the challenges faced by elephants and the need for further conservation efforts to protect these animals. Volunteer programs are offered to allow visitors to interact with the elephants by feeding and bathing these majestic creatures.

 Other than offering education and volunteer programs for visitors, these sanctuaries provide support for local communities. These sanctuaries can provide locals with employment opportunities, and foster a better relationship between nearby communities and the elephants.

The Thai government has also taken great steps in promoting elephant conservation efforts. Laws have been enacted such as The National Parks Act and The Wild Animal Reservation and Protection Act, which prohibit the hunting and capturing of elephants without a permit. The Thai government has also established elephant conservation centers throughout the country. These centers focus on ensuring the long-term survival and well-being of these creatures.

The government has also worked to spread more awareness of the ethical treatment of these elephants. Government grants have been awarded for volunteer and educational programs. The Thai government has also partnered with many international organizations to address the challenges faced by elephant conservation efforts.

As you enjoy your stay at your private villa rental on Natai Beach remember that there is a wild world to explore not far from your luxury villa. The wild of Thailand is teeming with beautiful creatures. If you choose to take a break from the relaxing beachfront villa and venture to a majestic experience interacting with beautiful elephants, just know that Summer Estate is situated in the perfect location. Not far from Summer Estate, you will find serval elephant sanctuaries around Phuket to explore and experience the natural world and its majestic wildlife.