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.


[Your Name Here]

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  1. Valerie. felicione says:

    I will not visit Thailand again nor will I purchase anything from Thailand until these elephants have stopped being treated so cruelly and inhumane

  2. Heather DesRoches says:

    It is just not right to treat another living creature so inhumanely. I will never visit Thailand knowing that these practices are encouraged there. Please sign the petetion if you think your signature won’t make a difference, just remember the saying “STRENGTH IN NUMBERS”

  3. Michelle says:

    My idea: We need to find elephant trekking tours and comment about the abuse or send them something like this email text below. People booking tours read the comments and we can teach more people. Need language translation too:

    I was looking at your website to book a group tour to see elephants. I will not use your group! You are advertising baby elephant massage, riding, trekking!!! And pictures of elephants on hind legs in a circus. Tourists are learning that baby elephants are stolen from the mother and beaten to do these things. This is abusive and I will make sure I tell everyone I know not to use you or other similar tours.

    My tour will only pay to watch them in the wild or a true sanctuary.

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