No more chains, hooks or rides for this old girl. Late yesterday evening we welcomed a new addition to the WFFT elephant herd, Malai Ngun (English – Silver Garland). After almost 65 years being enslaved by humans this old girl is now free: free of chains, free from abuse and free to do as she wishes.
She has spent the last 10 years giving rides to tourists every day of the year. Prior to being worked at this camp she was being used as a logging elephant in the south of Thailand where she had sustained an injury to her left eye, leaving her completely blind in this eye. The elephant camp Malai Ngun was rescued from did not only house and abuse elephants, it also housed crocodiles, horses and even tigers, that were being used for various exploitive tourism practices.
Here in Thailand the elephant-tourism industry is growing, we currently have a captive population of of over 3000 individuals and a wild population of approximately 2500-3200. Captive elephants are still listed under the Draught Animals Act of 1939, this Act gives them little protection, the registration policy within it allows animals not to be registered with a government department until eight years of age, creating a major loophole were wild-caught elephant calves can be filtered into the domestic elephant population ‘unnoticed’. Wild elephants, in contrast, are protected under the Wild Animal Reservation and Protection Act 1992 (WARPA), within which anyone caught hunting, killing or trading in wild elephants or parts are held liable to fines or jail sentences.