With an ever-dwindling wild population of Asian Elephants in Thailand, prospects for this endangered species are bleak. So-called 'domesticated' elephants work in tourist camps or do street-begging to provide an income for the family that owns them. This reduces their life expectancy, diminishes their cultural importance and puts them in inhumane conditions. With tourism being an integral part of Thailand's economy, the challenge now is to change the model to better the lives of these elephants.
The eco-tourism model (also known as ethical tourism) puts the welfare of the elephant at its core. For an elephant, living in the forest has a tremendous impact on its psychological and physical health. This project aims to host a sustainable population of elephants. With a strict hands-off, purely-observational methodology that enables the study of their behaviour and education of the local community on the importance of their conservation, the aim is to provide a solution that benefits both.
This sustainable eco-tourism model will provide an alternative livelihood for elephants, mahouts and families for future generations. Long-term, by educating the local community about the project, they will be able to take ownership of it, without outside influence. In addition, by proving the effectiveness of this model, the aim is to encourage its wider adoption in Thailand and thereby be an agent of change within the industry.