In Thailand and Laos, elephants are being treated very badly. They are being used for insanely hard work, that is actually even hard for elephants and can cause them serious harm, and are also being used for tourists entertainment, which doesn’t sound so bad but actually it is. Some are also still being hunted for ivory. Some organizations, thankfully, are trying to save the poor guys. They are having a hard job of it as well. Laos calls itself the land of a million elephants, but right now it only has just over 1,000 elephants there. The effects are drastic and many elephants are dying and not being replaced with new ones. The populations decreasing too fast. Something needs to be done. This is why:
Elephant training is brutal, the babies are ripped away from their mothers and put into a tiny cage that they barely fit in. Then they are poked, prodded and abused very badly with electrified sticks, billhooks, and rods with nails on the end. They are also starved and deprived of sleep to crush their spirits and make them succumb to humans. When they are taken back out they get to rejoin their mothers, but that’s not all of it. Their moms still have to go on treks and when on treks, (pretty much all day,) the baby cannot nurse, rest or sleep. If they slow down the Mahout will poke them with a billhook, which could remind them of the time in the cage. This automatically strikes fear into them and it can make them go into a frenzy of fright. This can hurt not only them, but the riders as well. Now, even if the elephants don’t have babies with them on the trek, elephants get hurt. Even adult elephants can not take the weight of humans and tourist rides can give them serious back injuries. The weight of humans on their backs 24/7 can cause terrible spinal injuries and the rubbing of the chair or howdah on their backs can cause blisters that can get badly infected. They can also get foot infections from always walking and being chained. Also when in camp they are often not given enough food or water and are often put in solitary confinement. People have reported seeing elephants continuously moving; this can be a sign of psychological stress.
Logging is bad for elephants and the environment of Laos. It destroys the elephants’s natural habitat and increases deforestation. They are also killing many elephants in the process. Laos used to actually have 1,000,000 elephants but now, not so much. They are even, indirectly, hurting the wild elephants of Laos by destroying their homes. Because teak wood in Laos is so high in demand, elephants are being worked way too hard! They have to pull these heavy tree trunks across every kind of terrain, in all weather. We saw an elephant trying to pull an extremely heavy log through a river and he would be considered lucky! You are probably thinking, “Why is the population going down so quickly though? All those elephants couldn’t have just died!” Well you are right. It is actually because all the elephants are working so hard, they can’t reproduce and so there are no babies to replace the ones who die. It is probably also partially because too many are dying. They are being treated like dirt, even though they are highly intelligent animals, and are being given a fraction of the food they need, especially if they are working all the time! It is the most despicable business and if something isn’t done soon elephants could go extinct in Laos.