Every winter, many American and European visit Thailand as tourists. Many of them stay longer than a month. Many of those countries have their own town in Thailand. Not only China Town which is famous in here, but Thailand also has Swedish Town, Portuguese Town and etc. My parent’s friend, who is working on a Thai resort, told my parent that the thousands of Swedese live around her place. From my eyes and from my heart, I dare to say that those foreigners love Thailand more than many Thais do.
The Elephant is a prominent and permanent identity of Thailand. Thai people should be proud of it. No one can steal this identity from Thailand. Let’s turn some pages of a newspaper, and we can see that Philippino want Thai boxing to be theirs; and some country wants the copyright of Thai jasmine rice. These are the reasons that Thai people should really protect the elephants from danger and extinction. The elephants should not be allowed to walk in the city, because of the inappropriate environment, the dangerous traffic and the harmful construction.
Most Thai people think that the extinction of Thai elephants cannot come true, because Thailand has plenty of elephants. They are right that Thai Elephants are more plentiful than in other countries, but they are much less plentiful than in Thailand in the past. Mr. Wanchai Asawawibulkij showed, “There were 100,000 elephants in the country in 1900 and only about 4,000 today. Of these, only about 1,500 live in the wild, and their numbers are decreasing by 5 to 10 percent annually (Schroeder 25).” if the Thai government still continues to allow the elephants to walk in the city, the number of elephants will decease faster than just 5 to 10 percent.
Naturally, elephants are big wild animals. Surely, they need to breed in the forests that have natural environment for them. A female elephant spends over 20 months in pregnancy, and elephants do not breed so often. “Normally, a female elephant will begin to show readiness to mate when it is approximately 15 – 16 years old. This will last until age of 50 – 55 years (Thailand Elephant)”, although its life is 80 years old. The city’s environment is not appropriate for elephants’ breeding. Imagine, if 1,000 elephants were in the city. If those 1,000 elephants did not breed, we might not know the decrease in the short term, because elephants have longevity. If this generation of elephants had gone, we would not have any elephants after that time. The numbers that Mr. Wanchai Asawawibulkij showed can change fast if there are too many elephants in the city.
Elephants do not only have breeding troubles in the city, the elephants are also endangered on the street. Douglas H Chadwick from National Geographic magazine also wrote that, “Forced to walk long distances to reach city centers each day, the elephants get sick from breathing exhaust fumes, drinking polluted water, and having to snatch meals from trash-filled ditches (Chadwick 98).” Most elephants that are hit from the cars, die because of their big size and the small number of elephant veterinarian. The pain of a big animal such as an elephant is harder to cure than that of small animals, like birds or dogs. Most veterinary students study just for dogs and cats. In Thailand, there are not enough veterinarians who can cure the elephants. Worse than that, there is the only one veterinarian who is an expert. That is Dr. Alongkorn Mahannop. Dr. Alongkorn always has to travel around many places in Thailand, whenever the elephants are sick or in pain. I cannot imagine if he retired, because now he is 57 years old (Thammasat Lib.). Thai people have named him, “the doctor of all aimless elephants”.
While elephants are walking on the street, they really bother the traffic. When elephants’ owners bring the elephants to walk on the street, that is the time they make all drivers hate elephants. This should not be happening, because all Thai people should love elephants. The elephant is a big animal, and walks slowly. The width of an elephant is already one lane of the street. Most streets in Thailand have only two to three lanes. The left lane that elephants use to walk is the lane for the buses and motorcycles. This lane is already busy with those vehicles, and in even busier, because it is the connection between the main street and the small side roads. The reason that the elephants’ owners let their elephants walk on this lane, so that people can enjoy their elephants more easily. Many times, the elephants stop to play with people who pay at feed them. The cars will beep to them long and loudly. That should not happen! The elephant is a very lovely animal.
While the elephants walk in the city, not only them who get hurt from the cars, the humans also can get hurt from the elephants. The city loses control on the people who come to see the elephant. Everybody can touch the elephants freely. Thai elephants are friendly, but they may be in musth sometimes. “The musth in the male elephant can be observed easily. Before a male elephant will be in musth, it will be drowsy, sometimes ferocious and also out of control. It tries to break out of the chain binding and hurts other elephants and persons that it is surrounded by; even its mahout (Thailand Elephant)”. Financial Times reported that, “A young British tourist was killed by an elephant at a Thai resort. Her father and sister were also wounded as they tried to help her (Financial Times 1)”. And also, All friendly animals can harm people when people treat them badly. For this habit, there is nothing different between an elephant and a dog. A video which available on Seedang.com showed, that a drunk guy used a hook to hit an elephant’s head, and the elephant was angry and kill him. The police and other people could not get him out from the elephant. They tried to use fruits and food to induce the elephant. When people could take that drunk man out, the elephant became mad and destroy a car and trees (Daikin News 2007). If elephants are in the right place, where the security guard can check the people who visit elephants, both humans and elephants will be secure.
Before the government makes a law to forbid the elephants from walking in the city, they should know where those elephants will be, and how to feed them. In fact, the elephants’ owners bring the elephant to walk on the street to get the money, because they are poor, and they have to feed the elephant every day. “Adult Elephants eat about 300 pounds of food each day (Library on the Web)”. Bringing the elephant into the city is their only way to get enough money for their elephants. Many elephants’ owners have had the elephants since they were born. If the government can prepare both habitat and food for all elephants in the city, they have to spend a lot of money. The money comes from a tax on all citizens. Surely, some citizens will disagree. They will think they do not get anything from the elephants, so why do they have to pay for them?
The elephants cause very big income for Thailand. In every November, the elephant festival in Surin makes 50-million bahts from foreigners. The people who get that money are folk that used to be poor. If the government pays for elephants, it is the way they disperse the money from the rich to the poor. In the long term, if the poor became middle class people, Thailand will become the developing country. This show that the elephants are very important to the future of the nation.
One of the most important reasons that Thai government should make this law is elephants have been the most important animals since 1,000 years ago. All Thai ancient kings had to have the elephants for their prestige. Catching the elephants was the most popular sport for Thai ancient kings, too. Thailand’s original flag was not like the current Thai flag. Thailand’s original flag was red with a white elephant in the middle. More than that, an ancient carving stone which was made in Sukothai Royal era, over 1,000 years ago, included a story of Thai people’s life about selling working elephants (Sawasdee Magazine). This proof proves that Thai peole’s life and elephants have been closed and cannot be torn apart.
Now, Thai people should just think about this idea to make a law. They may announce how bad and how harmful the city is to the elephants. They may talk about how elephants’ walking in the city may leads to the elephants’ extinction sooner. All Thai educated people are waiting for new hope of the country. That is the time to change the neglected elephants to be the regel elephants as they had been before.
Alongkorn Mahannop. M Supply co. Thammasat University Lib.27 Apr. 2008 .
Chadwick, Douglas H. “Thailand’s Urban Giants.” National Geographic. Oct. 2005. Vol. 208, Iss. 4: pg. 98-115. NYIT Lib.18 Apr. 2008 .
“Elephant kills tourist.” Financial Times. 26 Apr. 2000: 01. NYIT Lib.18 Apr. 2008 .
“Elephant Pregnancy and Giving birth.” The National Elaphant Institute. 18 Nov. 2008 .
“Musth in Elephant.” Daikin News. Oct. 2007: See Dang Video. 18 Nov. 2008 .
Schroeder, Lisa. “Elephants, Pulp & paper industry, Ecotourism.” The Christian Science Monitor. 1 Jul. 2008: 25. NYIT Lib.18 Apr. 2008 .
“Sukhothai.” Sawasdee Magazine. Thai Airways International Public Co. Ltd. 1 Nov. 2002: Mahidol University Lib. 18 Nov. 2008 .
Viger, Yvette. “Elephant.” Library on the Web. Mar. 2007: 27 Nov. 2008 .