With fewer tourists in Thailand, a livestream of elephants is a last-ditch effort to save them | Animals

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The village in Ban Ta Klang, Thailand, Siriporn Sapmak, starts the day by making videos on Livestream and two elephants to share on social media platforms and raise funds to live.

The 23-year-old has taken care of the pets since her days as a kid and every day; she places her cell phone to capture the elephants as she feeds them bananas or while they stroll around the backyard where she lives.

Reuters/JORGE SILVA

Through a variety of hours of videos uploaded through TikTok as well as Youtube, Siriporn managed to raise about 11,000 Baht (27.33 euros), according to him. However, he claims this isn’t enough since the amount only feeds two elephants for a single day.

The Siriporn family’s latest sources of revenue. Before the outbreak, the family could make money by selling fruit and putting on shows with elephants throughout Bangkok. Thai city Pattaya is located in the east of the country.

The Sapmak family, along with the majority of elephant owners in Thailand, were forced to return to their village because of the devastation of the elephant farms and the decrease in tourist numbers caused by the compulsory quarantine instituted to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

The videos of Siriporn aren’t always able to collect donations, meaning that on certain days, there’s no money available, and the elephants will be undernourished. “We hope tourists come back. If they return and return, we will stop making these videos. If we continue working, then we will make a (stable) income to purchase green grass to feed the elephants to eat.” So says the young man of 23.

A malnourished elephant is seen in the backyard of a Ban Ta Klang village resident. Ban Ta Klang
Reuters/JORGE SILVA

Edwin Wiek, founder of the organization Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailandestimates that at least 1,000 elephants live in Thailand and won’t have any “adequate income” until more tourists visit this Southeast Asian country.

According to official sources, Thailand has around 3200 to 4000 elephants living in the habitat of the domestic area and about 3500 elephants roaming in the wild. To ensure the health of these animals, Thailand has to discover “some way” to obtain funds to help the elephants “otherwise, it will be difficult to keep them alive for most families,” says Edwin Wiek.

“They’re like family”

The families of Ban Ta Klang, a village in Ban Ta Klang, in Surin province, have taken care of elephants over the years and have a solid connection to these animals. As a result, the elephant rides and shows have been a favorite among tourists, especially the Chinese. But the criticism of groups representing animal rights over the treatment of elephants has created a new attraction to sanctuary tourism.

Reuters/JORGE SILVA

“We are all united, just like family members. If we don’t have elephants, we do not know what our species’ future will be like. Today, we have a lot because of these animals,” Recalls Pensri Sapmak, Mother of Siriporn, who is 60 years old.

According to Thailand’s Ministry of Livestock, the government of Thailand has donated 500,000 kilograms of grass in different provinces to provide food for the elephants. However, the family of Siriporn has not received any help from the government.

“This is a big national issue,” and the government has plans to aid the elephants and keepers and is preparing a series of “measures together with a budget” that was announced by Sorawit Thanito, director general of the Ministry of Livestock from Thailand.

While the Thai government expects 10 million tourists to come back later in the year, many think it won’t be enough to draw elephant owners back to the most popular tourist destinations due to the cost involved.

Pensri Sapmak, an animal owner, is indoors while one of them is sitting in the backyard.
Reuters/JORGE SILVA

“Who has the money to get a truck and the necessary security to go to these places and have the business back when the tourists return?” Asks Edwin Wiek.

In this regard, Pensri Sapmak is not too optimistic. “Some days we make income, and other days we don’t, that means there’s less food available. So I can’t see any bright light at the end of the road.”

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