Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, reports indicate that elephants working in Thailand’s tourism sector risk being sold to zoos and illegal logging operations as the cost of feeding them continues to mount. The coronavirus pandemic has significantly reduced the number of visitors that Thailand receives and this has resulted in the elephants being left chained and underfed for long hours.
Even before the virus and its negative impacts, life for elephants in Thailand was very stressful. According to reports due to abusive methods that are often practised in order to break them so that they may perform tricks for tourists or give rides for money. With the global economy paralyzed due to coronavirus and the resulting lockdown, the elephants have been unable to make any money for their owners and thereby not offsetting the 300kg (660 pounds) of food a day needed by the tusker to survive.
Organisations advocating for elephant rights have warned that hunger and the threat of renewed exploitation may lie ahead for elephants in Thailand if nothing is done for them. As per reports, Theerapat Trungprakan, president of the Thai Elephant Alliance Association has claimed that around 2,000 elephants are currently ‘unemployed’ to the coronavirus pandemic and its Impact on the tourism industry.
Theerapat believes that if nothing is done then the elephants may start being used in the illegal forest trade along the Thai-Myanmar border. The use of elephants in the transport of wood would be in breach of a 30-year-old law banning their use.
As per reports, the slump for the elephants began back in January. Chinese visitors that make up the majority of Thailand’s 40 million tourists, decreased by 80 per cent. Thailand has reported 1,651 positive coronavirus cases but has managed to limit the death toll to only 10. The deadly coronavirus pandemic has infected 802,512 worldwide and the global death toll stands at 38,991.
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