Another COVID Effect: Thai Elephant Returned To Their Natural Habitats

They are out of work.

This awful crisis has affected the whole world. The virus has turned our lives upside-down and took too many lives. This pandemic was the worse thing that ever happened to most of us and while it's had some 'positive' effects, there's nothing good about it. However, while humans are suffering through this awful crisis, in the animal world, the effects have been rather positive.

In Thailand, elephants have been used to entertain tourists, for years. However, since the new coronavirus has affected the entire world, there aren't any tourists, in Thailand or anywhere else for that matter.

As a result, elephants have lost their jobs, and as the number of visitors is low, commercial elephant camps and sanctuaries can no longer afford to keep them.

Due to the lack of funds, they have sent more than 100 elephants marching for up to 150 kilometers back to their homes. The elephants have walked from Chiang Mai to Mae Chaem, where the Karen ethnic minority lives and traditionally keeps elephants.

The Save Elephant Foundation from Chiang Mai has been promoting the elephants’ return to their homes. While the foundation supports fundraising appeals to feed animals still housed at tourist parks, it also believes that returning to their natural habitat is good for the elephants.

The situation is pretty bad, as according to London-based World Animal Protection, about 2000 tame elephants may starve because their owners can't feed them.

Saengduean Chailert, founder of The Save Elephant Foundation said bringing unemployed elephants home came as a response to appeals from their owners. Her group promotes settling elephants where they can live alongside villagers in sustainable eco-friendly communities.

Sadudee Serichevee owns four elephants and followed the foundations' approach to set up his own small Karen Elephant Experience Park. He brought elephants from his wife's village, but his plans were put on hold by the pandemic. "At first I thought the situation would be back to normal within a month or two. At the end of April, I lost all hope," Sadudee said.

They decided to take the animals back to the village because they could no longer afford the monthly expenses pf more than $6000 for rental, facilities, salaries, and food. Elephants eat about 300 kilograms a day of grass and vegetables.

They convinced some other owners to make the 150 kilometer trip with them, on foot, as trucking would have been very expensive. ELephants have a walking speed of 7.25 kph (or 4.5 mph)

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