The coronavirus has created a massive impact in all sections of the world. For countries like Thailand that rely on tourism for the economy, the coronavirus has destroyed their means of sustaining themselves. One of the chief attractions in Thailand are the elephant sanctuaries. While these majestic animals draw millions of people from around the world, elephant care can be very expensive. As the tourist numbers have dropped in the wake of Covid 19, the elephant keepers waited and hoped for the crowds to return. They didn't.
That left the question about how to feed the elephants. If they stayed, they would starve. So hundreds of captive elephants are being walked to different sites across 100 miles, making it one of the biggest migration of elephants in Thailand's history. Their final stop is the Chiang Mai provence, where the keepers will reunite with other elephants in sanctuary places.
The treatment of elephants in Thailand has been a controversial subject for animal rights activists around the world. Many elephant keepers treat their elephants poorly, subjecting theim to inhumane conditions and dangerous practices. There are many charity groups that are helping to fight back against the mistreatment of the animals and the coronavirus effectivey shutting down tourism has given these groups and chance to interece on the elephant's behalf.
The migration is being organized by Save Elephant Foundation and other conservation groups. The animals have to travel through countryside ablaze with land clearance fires set by farmers. "It's terrible," Lek Chailert said as she undertook a rescue mission. "They are walking in the hot sun, with nothing to sustain them. This is a crisis. We have to try and save them."
Lek Chailert of Save Elephants Foundation
There were a bunch of issues in the crossing. When the elephants stopped for rest and water they were chased off by locals who were worried that the animals brought the coronavirus with them.
From sciencetimes.com :
To the rescue was Lek Chailert, charity owner of Save Elephant Foundation , who funded the 'great migration.' She had previously worked with Pang's group in setting up ethical tourist camps, which have all disappeared because of the pandemic. She hopes that they can all start over 'to transform the entire industry.'
If it weren't for coronavirus, she shares, 'the elephants would be in the same place.' What the pandemic is doing is allowing elephant keepers and charities time to think, and give tourists time to reflect as well, on the reality of working elephants in the tourist industry.