CREATING A SUSTAINABLE ENVIRONMENT FOR THE ASIAN ELEPHANT: THE CASE OF MAESA ELEPHANT CAMP IN CHIANGMAI
ACKARADEJRUANGSRI, Pajaree, Ph.D.
RIVERA, John Paolo R., Ph.D.
Centre for ASEAN Studies, ASEAN Business Case Studies No 34, July 2016
A century ago, there were a hundred thousand domesticated elephants in Thailand. Considered valuable, they were utilized for logging. As logging was regulated in 1989, most domesticated elephants became unemployed. With expanding opportunities in tourism, many elephants have been showcased in elephant camps. Together with their mahouts, they became part of the tourism attractions in the country with concentration in Surin and Chiangmai. Developing these sites created meaningful employment opportunities for mahouts and elephants. To sustain this industry, elephants are forced to work longer hours, and are sometimes harmed for entertainment. Most conservationists claim that the boom in the tourism industry is good for elephants. It offers a way to compensate elephants and its mahouts. However, to be sustainable, a comprehensive ecotourism development plan must be enforced to conserve the elephants. Most may advocate that letting elephants be in the forest is the best alternative. But, it is infeasible without all embracing, properly maintained, and guarded parks and sanctuaries.
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