Embracing Greatness, Thailand by Lisa Kristine

Embracing Greatness, Thailand

Deeply rooted in Thai culture, elephant training has traditionally been a familial heritage passed down through the generations.  A mahout, one who ‘drives’ an elephant, is typically young when he is entrusted with an adolescent elephant to train. The pair will remain together throughout the elephant’s lifespan of around seventy years of age. As part of the daily routine, mahouts bring their elephants to bathe in the rivers. Here the mahout ushers his animal into the river with a tender intimacy. The pair sleep twenty feet from each other at night.
Before 1989, most domestic elephants were used for logging and forest service to haul logs up mountains. This became illegal as widespread destruction of Thailand's forests resulted in worsening monsoons. Unlike the elephant populations of India and Africa, 95% of Thailand's elephants are domesticated working elephants and privately owned. 

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