End Elephant Tourism in Thailand

Target: Thai Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment

Goal: Protect the endangered Asian elephant by prohibiting the illegal smuggling of Burmese elephants into Thailand.

A recent film by the Ecologist Film Unit exposing the violent and illegal trade of endangered Asian elephants from Burma to Thailand raises the need to act now to save these animals from a life in brutal captivity and likely death. After viewing the film here please sign the petition below asking the Thai government to enforce the law on illegal elephant smuggling. At least 100 elephants, mostly calves, are taken from Burmese forests and traded illegally to supply Thai elephant tourist camps. The journey for the calves and their families is horrific. For every calf taken, approximately five elephants in its family group are shot. The calves then undergo a ritual known as the phajaan, where the calves are tied up, starved, and beaten until a fear of humans is deeply ingrained in them. It is estimated that only one in three elephants survives this torture. Those that do, are than smuggled into Thailand.

The elephants that reach Thailand are subjected to living in captivity, often having their pictures taken with tourists none the wiser to what they have endured. The Thai tourism industry is doing very well and fueling the demand for elephants. A baby elephant can fetch anywhere from $21,000 to $31,000. When traveling toThailand, it is not advised to boycott the camps, as this would lessen the monies available to care for the elephants, but to report suspicious operations. Action needs to be taken at the government level for true change to occur.

Traditionally, attention has been given to the African elephant sought after for its ivory tusks. However, the Asian elephant population is in critical danger. Already listed as endangered, it is estimated that there are 25,000 to 35,000 left in the wild, far fewer than those in Africa. Burma’s population is second only to India with approximately 5,000 elephants. If trade continues as it is, the population could be decimated within ten years.

By signing this petition you are urging the Thai government to tighten and enforce laws against illegal smuggling of elephants into Thailand.


Dear Minister Preecha Rengsomboonsuk,

Elephant smuggling, while illegal in Thailand, is never the less becoming an increasing problem. The world has been enlightened to the plight of elephants smuggled into the country from Burma in a recent film by the Ecologist Film Unit. The killing of entire elephant families, and torture of calves is unacceptable. The boom in the tourist industry is a positive economic event for your country, but not at the expense of the endangered Asian elephant, which is in such high demand that smugglers will go to great lengths to capture them. There have been efforts made to crackdown on elephant camps engaging in illegal smuggling, but for the most part those efforts have only succeeded to drive smuggling further underground. Please make ending illegal smuggling a priority for the future of the Asian elephant.

Asian elephants, already listed as endangered, will not be around much longer if the killing and torture are not ended. It is estimated that 25,000 to 35,000 remain, with 5,000 residing in Burmese forests. Burma should be a place of hope for the elephant population not a place of death. If illegal trade continues at the same rate, the population could be depleted within ten years.

Now is the time to put an end to the trade. Please review your laws and make it more difficult for wild Burmese elephants to be assimilated into the Thai population. Ways to achieve this include, making it a requirement to register calves within two weeks of their birth in captivity, instead of eight years of age which is the current requirement. In addition, a registration plan for all elephants should be mandatory. Ideally, this should be backed up with a DNA database. Finally, tighter border controls and strict penalties need to be put in place. Please act now.


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  1. use the power of the media to bring this to a lot more people. will not let the torture of this creatures go on

  2. Jelca Bruigom says:

    Get real, believe the unbelievable…I don’t understand these tourist either. How dumb are we humans. Angry

  3. nazanin alian says:

    Please stop the torture and killing of these acts can

  4. Jill Just says:

    I always believed that as most Thai people are buddists that they had more regard for all forms of life including animals & not to exploit them for money

  5. Ale Garceau says:

    People are D I S G U S T I N G



  7. We have got to stop the torturing of elephants!

  8. Lizette Watson says:

    Leave these beautiful creatures alone!!

  9. Karen Baumann says:

    This makes me SICK !!

  10. andrea limer says:

    So wrong!

  11. Horrible,is all i can say …

  12. I spent a day at each of the elephant camps in Pai to see how the elephants are treated. I regularly spend a couple of hours at Thom’s, I just love those beasts! They are chained because they are in close proximity to the road (if they wandered into the road unsupervised, there could be a bad accident) but they are well treated and ‘happy’. At night they are allowed to run free.
    Please remember that Pai’s elephants were working animals until it was prohibited in the 80s.
    Especially Thom, who grew up with her elephants, treats her animals well.
    Phanom, the oldest elephant at Thom’s, injured her leg this week and was put down humanely. I was there to see her being buried and the ceremony was quite touching.
    The way that Burmese elephant calves are treated is abominable and their capture and smuggeling should be prevented at all costs. However, please support Pai’s elephant camps, if you go out with the elephants here, you’ll see that the animals have just as much fun as the tourists that ride them …

  13. Gill Griffith says:

    Barbaric treatment. Animal exploitation at its very worst.

  14. Emily March says:

    Don’t talk to me about the ‘kindly’ Thai people no more : they certainly aren’t much better than their horrid neighbours in mainland China. How can one be so unimaginably cruel and so disrespectful of one’s fellow creatures on this planet? Particularly young calves, with every bit as much right to live and enjoy life as those abominable abuser thugs!- Not another Thai product is to enter our house. As to Thai restaurants : we’ll give those a miss as well. – Disgraceful behaviour and hardly civilized!!!

  15. Jamuna Llewellyn says:

    Stop harming and torturing elephants now!

  16. this must stop,,these are gods creatures,,shame on you,,stop chaining,beating and making money on them,.

  17. Karen Christopher says:

    You do not value life, this must stop, these animals are almost extinct! Compassion Compassion Compassion, not greed!!!!!

  18. Patriek Paap says:

    The Asian people dont know how to respect animals rights. Feel sorry for all the slaves-elephants. Hope one day all elephants can roam free in herds. I think the people who treat the elephant like a slave will have a bad karma.

  19. The beautiful intelligent animals are part of our world. God created all animals in the world, not to be abused by morons, pyscopaths but.to make the world beautiful where we should all live in peace. China, Thailand obsessed with greed. Abusing animals like this is sure to bring karma onto everyone who does these atrocities

  20. Thailand is definitely not a bad place.
    People have to understand that it is a third world nation and the people who are running the elephant ridings probably have no education, and are poor. Now don’t get me wrong I hate that people do that, but the place isn’t bad. If anything we should be going into that place and educating the people properly so they can still live, and making a better buisness where the people won’t go into poverty.

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