Mahouts are the special people who train, teach, feed and look after the elephants.
This is often a career chosen by the forefathers of the mahouts, going back generations. Originally mahouts and elephants were employed to haul wood and in the logging industry. However, in 1989, it became illegal to use elephants for the private logging industry in Thailand and this left many mahouts and their elephants jobless. Mahouts needing money to survive, turned to tourism to have an income. They began to train their elephants to be with tourists, often for riding. Here at Patong Elephant Care, there is no riding. We are working together with the mahouts, to take their elephants out of that exploited industry and back to just being elephants.
The mahouts are incredibly hard-working and treat their elephants like family members, with kindness and understanding. They usually remain with the same elephant and together they develop a special bond. Being here at Patong Elephant Care, the elephants are fed, bathed and tended to lovingly by their mahouts as well as the tourists who are fascinated with these beautiful creatures.