“We need laws to ban people from taking elephants on the roads throughout Thailand” says Soraida Salwala, Founder of Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE).
Elephants may be seen as a symbol of Thailand, but little is being officially done to protect them. Their numbers have declined significantly in recent years particularly with loss of their habitat. Soraida is using the recent 21st anniversary of the founding of FAE as an opportunity to draw attention to the need for much greater protection for these majestic animals.
Elephants are often taken around the city streets of Thailand to earn a living begging. But walking around the dirty and traffic-congested streets is unhealthy and dangerous. The elephants are at great risk of being hit by vehicles, of injuring themselves in pot holes or drains and are exposed to many other hazards that may lead to serious injuries or death. Some of the elephants may have worked in the logging industry, prior to this being stopped, but there is evidence that many of the baby elephants taken to the streets have been taken directly from the wild.
There are complex issues surrounding elephants that have been removed from the wild and kept in captivity for extended times and we need to ensure these animals are treated appropriately. Soraida and many others, who are fighting for the protection of elephants, believe that a law is an important step to help stopping the unscrupulous operators, who often lack the specialist knowledge required to appropriately care for an elephant. Soraida is seeking 20,000 signatures for a petition to be presented to the Thai Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra.
Intrepid travellers to Thailand have been visiting Friends of the Asian Elephant for many years now, and raising funds for their elephant care and advocacy work with contributions through The Intrepid Foundation. You can see the wonderful work of FAE in action on Explore Northern Thailand, Highlights of Thailand, Classic Thailand East Coast, Classic Thailand West Coast and Best of Thailand and Malaysia.
To sign the petition please click here.
You can also help support FAE via The Intrepid Foundation and Intrepid Travel will double* your donation!
* Donations will be matched by Intrepid Travel up to AU$5000 (or equivalent) per donor and a total of AU$400,000 each financial year.
* photo by James McGhie – Intrepid Photography Competition