…past, present and future…
In Buddhism, it is believed that the mother of Buddha – Queen Maya, was only able to conceive after having a dream that a white elephant stood beside her with a lotus flower and then entered her body. After her son, Gautama Buddha was born, elephants became important and, especially when Gautama Buddha became a religious leader on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. In Buddhism, the elephant is seen as an earthly manifestation of the qualities embodied in the Buddha himself symbolising strength, patience, loyalty and wisdom. Nowadays you will often see elephants with statues and images of Buddha.
Around the 1500’s, elephants became popular in Thailand to help with families and their work. They were used to help construct buildings, like temples and also to clear forests. The Kings also used to ride elephants into battle and the more elephants the King owned the higher his status and power over his Kingdom. The white elephants became and still are, very important to the Kings of Thailand. These are specially selected pale-coloured elephants given to the King.
There were approximately 1.3 million elephants in the whole world in the 1970’s, now their numbers have dropped to below 500 000 mainly due to poaching.
In Thailand, in the early 1900’s, there were approximately 100 000 captive or domesticated elephants. Around the middle of 2007, there were an approximately 3500 captive or domesticated elephants left in Thailand and around 1000 wild elephants. Since 1986, elephants have became an endangered species.
What does the future hold for elephants ?
Here at Patong Elephant Care, we strive to rescue as many elephants as we possibly can. This is no easy task as elephants’ owners can make a lot of money from tourists riding them. We are trying to educate tourists not to ride elephants because they suffer terribly while being trained and managed with hooks and chains. It is much kinder to spend time with them as beautiful creatures.
At Patong Elephant Care, you can do just that. Come and visit our park where you can hand-feed our elephants and even take them for a walk, or maybe its them that are taking you for a walk ?