Six Pattaya elephants and their mahouts won’t have to walk to Isan after the Thai Elephant Alliance donated six trucks to drive them home.
The elephant association combined its funds with donations from the public to pay for the heavy vehicles to carry five jumbos from a Mabprachan Lake elephant camp, and another from a different camp, to Satuek District in Buriram.
Bancha Homnien, 26, owner of the last addition, Rungreung, thanked the Elephant Alliance for providing the vehicles and saving the mahouts and their family the two-month trek on foot.
Unable to wait any longer for foreign tourists to return to Pattaya, five elephants and their owners began a 500-kilometer walk to Surin April 6. Thanks to the Thai Elephant Alliance, they could stop walking and hitch a ride to Buriram.
Napalai Mai-ngam, 26, said she and her family had come from Issan to Pattaya five years ago to work in a Huay Yai elephant camp. It was a good living, with a monthly salary of 15,000 baht a month plus tips from tourists who came from around the world to ride the jumbos through the wooded trails around the reservoir.
But the Covid-19 pandemic put an end to foreign tourism more than a year ago. The camp stopped paying salaries, so they hunkered down, doing their best to survive and keep the animals fed.
However, with Thailand not expecting to fully reopen until at least October, Napalai said her family decided to take their elephants back to the Northeast.