THE KRAAL'S "DAY CARE CENTER" FOR WORKING MOTHERS
Here in Thailand, these problems take the local character of a long-established working elephant population in the logging industry, who were put out of work by a government ban on harvesting trees in the 1980's. Although the effort to conserve what forest remained was both necessary and admirable, the elephants soon exhausted seasonal food supplies in the rural areas where they lived. Faced with finding food to the tune of 100 kilograms per day, many mahouts (elephants' lifelong trainers and one-on-one caretakers) took to the cities in search of work or handouts. (A few others found jobs in the dangerous illegal logging business, dosing their animals with huge quantities of amphetamines so they could work through the night and escape detection.)
Cities, where literally tons of pachyderms found themselves, are not built for elephants; traffic jams, property damage, a serious waste disposal problem, and injuries to both citizens and elephants were the results. Bangkok lawmakers soon banned the animals within city limits, leaving a human-dependent elephant population and those who had given their lives working alongside them truly cut adrift.
One solution to this grave dereliction of human responsibility towards domestic elephants was conceived and created three years ago by Mr. Sompast Meephan, a successful Ayutthaya businessman with a lifelong passion for elephants. At his Ayutthaya Elephant Camp, mahout/elephant teams work by day giving rides to 10,000 tourists per year. It's light, if somewhat routine work that's probably something like retirement after a life in the treacherous logging industry; human and animal employees alike even get a much-needed "day off".
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