24 April 2009
Born Free is delighted to report that the Government of Thailand has announced the suspension of international exports of elephants, a practice which has long caused serious concern among welfare and conservation experts.
Previously, elephants were exported from Thailand to zoos and captive facilities around the world, including Taronga and Melbourne zoos in Australia. Although the elephants exported were always described as captive-bred, many feared that a large illegal trade in wild-caught baby elephants was fuelling this brutal trade. However, serious loopholes in the system for registering elephants in Thailand meant that it was impossible to adequately ascertain the origin of those elephants targeted for export.
The practice of training wild elephants for a life of captivity and “domesticity” can be horrific. Born Free has seen footage of baby elephants chained and tortured with sharp bull-hooks – a practice which is undertaken to ‘break the spirit’ of the baby elephants so that they become seemingly docile and easy to manage.
Hopefully, this export suspension will enable the Thai authorities to undertake a full review of the legislation governing elephants in Thailand, to ensure that elephants are given the full protection and respect they truly deserve. Indeed, Born Free will be writing to the Thai government offering our expertise in reviewing and re-drafting this legislation.