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More jumbos on way to Elephant camp as Chinese tourists return

More jumbos on way to Elephant camp as Chinese tourists return

PHUKET: Six new jumbo elephants are on their way to a camp in Phuket to meet demand from returning Chinese tourists, it was confirmed yesterday (Jan 20).

By The Phuket News

Sunday 22 January 2023, 10:16AM

Elephant camps in Thailand have come under strenuous crticism for the way their mammals are treated and exploited. Photo: Bangkok Post

Elephant camps in Thailand have come under strenuous crticism for the way their mammals are treated and exploited. Photo: Bangkok Post

Wittaya Taweeros, the owner of Pang Chang Kamala Elephant Camp, confirmed the news, adding that he had experienced a significant increase in the number of tourists registering to visit the park after the Lunar New Year this weekend.

Wittaya added that the elephants had been brought in to meet demand while also being used to welcome visitors to the park.

Available activities for visitors to undertake with the elephants at the Pang Chang camp include bareback riding, jungle trekking, feeding sessions and showering with the mammals. Additionally, there is the option to partake in elephant shows, conduct model and wedding photography sessions and engage the mammals in ceremonies and events.

Wittaya also confirmed that the park have introduced a series of new programmes, including one called ‘Elephant Care’ which allows participants to learn “how to be ‘An Elephant Keeper’”.

The six new additions to the camp brings the total number of elephants there to 25 overall, Wittaya said, meaning the capacity for tourists can increase from 200 to 300 a day.

Wittaya said he hopes that number can increase furthermore in time as more tourists arrive on the island, predominantly from China which recently reopened its borders and has confirmed tour groups will be resuming as of Feb 6. Wittaya added that his company is using the same travel agent service to facilitate bookings from the China market as was used prior to the COVID-19 pandemic bringing an abrupt halt to tourism in early 2020.

Blue Tree Phuket

The welfare of elephants in captivity in Phuket came acutely under the microscope during the pandemic as reports surfaced of them struggling to survive due to the drop off in tourist numbers, with many camps across the island relying on donations. Many owners faced the challenge of no income and had run out of savings to buy food for their elephants, resulting in international registered charity organisers stepping in to help.

Furthermore, there has always been a strong backlash from critics who argue that the conditions in elephant camps are unacceptable and the way many of the elephants are treated is inhumane (although, it must be noted, no such complaints have officially been made against Pang Chang Camp in Kamala). In March 2020 the Phuket office of the Department of Livestock Development (DLD) issued a formal warning to an elephant camp in Rawai following photo evidence surfacing over the elephant being overly restrained by chains while in its infancy.

This followed a story in May 2019 of a three-year-old baby Jumbo at Phuket Zoo who died from a digestive tract infection despite an international campaign calling for him to be taken into care for better protection.

Many had hoped that the disruption brought about by COVID-19 would offer chance for pause, reflection and a possible reassement on how these majestic creatures are utilised and treated when in captivity in the hope that any exploitation would be reduced, if not eliminated altogether.

However, this now appears unlikely, with Chinese tourists returning en masse and up to 1.5 million expected in Phuket alone this year, suggesting we are going right back to where we were three years ago and have seemingly leant or changed very little.

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Pascale | 23 January 2023 - 17:23:27

@Pooliekev     Agree 100% ! The biased troll shows again his ignorance.  Some people on here do really think that only Chinese visit those camps ! Complete nonsense of course. Just witnessed how an elephant was used for a wedding ceremony by a German couple. 

ematt | 23 January 2023 - 14:49:37

Punters move to a tourist destination and then complain about tourism.  Maybe you missed the part where this is how people in Phuket feed their families. 

Kamala Pete | 23 January 2023 - 12:33:55

This is not a simple issue. If elephants had no "tourist value" then they would have no value at all in Asia. As more land gets developed for farming they would just be got rid of, as Burma did when they lost their timber-hauling value. I see no easy solution except more rigorous monitoring of their owners. 

Pooliekev | 23 January 2023 - 12:09:07

@JohnC. China DOES have wild elephants. A little knowledge would help your bigoted cause. 

christysweet | 23 January 2023 - 10:00:01

What's next, boiling dogs alive and calling it a festival? Unbridled selfish, greedy capitalism is going to cook Thailand's tourism goose. 

JohnC | 23 January 2023 - 08:55:01

Agree 100% capricornball. Disgust is a great choice of word to describe the continued abuse of these majestic animals, and many others. We humans have so much to answer for from our insatiable greed and selfishness. If China had elephants they would probably eat them too just like they do everything else.

Capricornball | 22 January 2023 - 22:38:01

Disgust is the first thing that comes to mind. Disgust for Thailand for their insatiable demand for tourist dollars no matter the cost to the environment or anything else..."just bring us your f*#^ money". Then disgust for the Chinese that couldn't give 2 s#!^z about the plight of these majestic animals at the hands of the heartless mahouts..."just gimme my f*#^ selfie!". D...


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