Sunday, January 22, 2017

Elephant Encounter

Early morning at the elephant camp
I was looking forward to getting out of Chiang Mai and into the country for the day to meet the elephants at Hug Elephant, one of many similar operations in Thailand. I wasn't sure I was ready for 'hugging' such large animals but by the time I had fed them, walked with them and given them a mud bath, I was won over; elephants are amazing creatures!
Only male Asian elephants grow tusks
Asian elephants once had a major role to play in the logging industries of SE Asia. But once the remnant forests were protected from further logging by governments, the elephants found a new role as entertainment for tourists.
Everyone gets a mud bath
Perhaps working for tourists isn't such a bad thing. Local people around the world are giving up working the land to find easier jobs in tourism, so why not elephants too?
After the mud bath everyone gets a rinse off!
One negative side-effect of tourism on elephants that I heard about was that they are prone to developing diabetes. I noticed that they are fed a regular diet of sugar cane and bananas, which they love but are not usually a big part of their normal diet.

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