Frequently asked questions
Why do we have to chain the elephants?
- Most of elephants here are the ones born in the period of forestry industry. So, the elephants are accustomed to the chain attached to them for use in dragging logs.
- As the elephant is not a human being, so it does not know territory created by man, such as fences. The elephant may go out to damage properties or may harm humans. But most importantly, in the forest at that time, the elephant might get danger from stepping on landmines.
- Some elephantis chained because it is the elephant born at the camp where it is familiar to people and will not runaway and be scared upon seeing the strange animals.
- The elephants are familiar with the chain because they used to work in the woods before. If without chains, these elephantswill not know what to do or where to stay and then they may walk in the direction that nobody can guess, like those who owns a dog they love. When their dog was lost,how will they feel?
- As the urban society is moving into the forest, the communities in rural may obstruct the passage of the elephants without intending and may cause a conflict between human communities and the elephant owner or even the elephant camp.
- Using the chain is to limit territory of each elephant.The reason why we limit is because the elephants are social animals, so there is social stratification.Living in the limited space, you cannot prohibit these emotions. And we also do not want to have any loss occurred.
- There are two types of elephants at our elephant camp:One is the elephants that you can approach to play with, feed, and take photos with. These are the elephants that are familiar to men since they were born.These elephants, with or without chain, can live normally. The other type is the elephants worked elsewhere before. That is to say that these elephants were in the forest industry, working in deep forest, very risky and dangerous before. These elephantswere chained at birth and worked for long period and are familiar with the chain.How can these elephants come to stay with us?This is because, at present, there is no more forest industry and the elephants’owner affected economic problems and the elephants are also cannot work because of old age. So, they were left with us to take care of.
Use a hook?
- No Used for self-defense in case of elephant’s attack to the mahout because no one can stop the elephant even the elephant. So, the mahout needs it to save his own life.
- Some mahout has a knife to protect himself from the harm of other animals other than the elephant, and also use it to cut branches that obstructing path of the elephants and trim the leaves to feed the elephant.
Why did the elephants die by young age?
- Get sick Hurt each other to win for a herd leader.
Why don’t release it into the forest?
- The elephant is an intelligent animal with mind and heart.The elephant and its mahout have strong bond to each other. If the elephant is released into the forest, how will their hearts are?
- These elephants were born in the elephant camp, without ability to be watchful in the forest like the ones born in the forest. So, releasing the elephants born in the elephant camp is like to kill them indirectly.
- The wild elephants caught for forest industry previously or to do other works cannot survive on their own.
Is it better to have the elephant in the camp rather than in the forest?
- There are numbers of people with superstition about eating organs of animals. So, the wild elephants today are in a state very vulnerable for hunting by hunters.
- Every tusk of elephants in the elephant camps have been marked and registered with the government unlike wild elephants, whose tusk is not registered. It is highly dangerous for the elephant.
- The current situation of forests in Thailand, at the national park, there is not enough food for the elephants. This can be noticed from intrusion of the wild elephant s to eat plants of villagers almost every day.
- The raised elephants or elephants were born in the elephant camp have to stay with men only, unable to live on their own.
Isn’t the elephant tortured for training of drawing?
- As the elephants are intelligent and talented, if we promote on the right area to pull out their potential, this will encourage them to be artists rather than taking them to stray.
- Teaching the elephants on drawing began since the elephants were young, like children who have to learn how to hold a pen, pencil, but when they have learnt, they will be able to remember for their lifetime.
Why have to do Pha Chan?
- When the baby elephant was born, it will have a time of learning:
In the 1st step, it is the period that the baby elephant stays near its mother because it rarely relies on itself, taking about 20 months.
In the 2nd step, it is a period called a period of learning. In this period, the elephant begins to learn the lessons and activities. This is very important because if the elephant has no any learnings, it will become the elephant with no talent on any camps. And many times we found that if the development in this step did not occur, the elephant would be the one unable to adapt itself to other elephants and have to live alone among the elephants in the elephant camp. But we cannot let its happen because when the baby elephant doesn’t want to be apart from its mother, several times we saw that the mother elephant would hurt its baby elephant by kicking in order to prevent the baby elephant to disrupt its mating in the next round.
- When the baby elephant was born, it will have a time of learning:
Is Pha Chan harmful to the baby elephant?
- Even the elephants are big but they are afraid of everything, even little mice. Pha Chan is away that elephants will be nurtured to have courage in its heart.
How many elephant can a mahout has in his control? Can he have more than that?
- He can have one elephant. Sometimes one elephant may need 2-3 mahouts, but there is only 1 major mahout because the major mahout is the one who has a tie with such elephant most. The minor mahout (Kwan Teen) will be in charge in case of absence of the major mahout elephant, like the time foreign tourists travel abroad, their beloved pet are left under the care of their reliable neighbor.
How good memory do the elephants have?
- The elephants have such good memories in the extents that when they are bounded and chained in a cage, they can learn how to untie and open the door and run away in a few days, learning at the time the mahout open and close the door.
Why does it need the mahout to mix colors?
- The elephant has color blindness
As the painting elephant is an artist, why does the mahout have to catch its ears/ stand nearby?
- The real goal of painting is to show the good relationship between the mahout and elephant. To have a painting, the elephant has to have a talent and the mahout must have a good relationship with the elephant so that they can create the picture. Either of them is indispensable. They both will be really unified.
- The hook has been used to control elephants since ancient times so that it becomes a culture in a way of life between man and elephant. But the hook is not the only means to communicate with the elephants. But also, once outsiders get acquainted to elephants and mahouts enough, they will understand well how much the mahouts love their elephants. Then, you may have a question why does the mahout need to carry a hook with him all the time he is with the elephants. In the real life, the elephant is like a man who has a good day and moody day. We often see elephants in love with each other in the media. In the real life, the elephants also have some quarrel with each other, play favoritism, and have hierarchy. Even the elephants have been trained well, but when they fight each others, if you cannot separate or stop them, that mean serious injury, and sometimes we may loss the pretty and clever elephants. How to save the lives of elephants from death and serious injury, how to separate them at the time they aim to overcome each other fiercely what is the mahout, as a family leader, has to take the risk of his own life for his elephants…
(Chain) Why can it do at other place, but here cannot do้?
- This is because of different background of each of elephants. Elephants of other places are the elephants born in the camp, living together as a herd, familiar with one another since the beginning, and there is a hierarchy since their birth. But the elephants here were of the forest industry before. They were used for hard working since they were young. Even the lighter works, such as elephant show, they had no opportunity to practice. This is because, at that time, no one thought to pull out the hidden potential of these elephants to earn their living, but only hard working in the forest.
- What were we doing at 30 years ago? Mae Sa Elephant Camp has helped a lot of elephants working at risk. These are elephants having been with us since then until now. And there still are many people who own elephants and are waiting for us to visit because the cost of living of each elephant is very high. Therefore, the elephants here did not stay together since birth. And when they come to stay together, there is no hierarchy of elephants. Do you understand the hierarchy in the herd of animals? When there is no hierarchy , the elephants will battle each other for dominance. Female elephants will fight among themselves. And male elephants will fight among themselves as well.
Do the elephants have any break time?
- At Mae Sa Elephant Camp, all elephants will start working in the morning at 8:00 am., 9:40 am and 01:30 pm. Then they will have a break at 10.00 am to 10:30am. and have another break at 12.00 am., that is the lunch of the mahouts, which the elephants and mahouts have a break together. If, in the afternoon, there are no many guests, the elephant working on yesterday afternoon will back home together with the mahouts. And the elephant taking the break on yesterday afternoon will work instead. We will have circulation so that the elephants will work comfortably.