Elephant Hills attends National Elephant Conference 2023
At Elephant Hills, we always want to stay updated and educated about the developments in the Thai elephant industry and elephant medicine. Hence, we have been regularly attending the annual National Thai Elephant Conference for several years. This conference is a unique opportunity to all elephant enthusiasts and professionals, including elephant camp management, representatives of tourism operators, veterinarians, university professors, and government officials to gather to discuss and share invaluable information on the conservation, management and health of the Thai elephants.
National Elephant Conference celebrates 10-year anniversary
National Elephant Conference is arranged by Faculty of Veterinary Science of Chiang Mai University and Forest Industry Organization, hosted at the Thai Elephant Conservation Center. This year the conference was arranged as full form on-site for the first time since the pandemic, and the two-day event was held at the Thai Elephant Conservation Center (TECC) in Lampang from 24th to 25th August 2023.
Although the event had been arranged mainly online over the past couple of years, it surely was an extra special occasion to have all Thailand’s “elephant people” under the same roof once again! What made it even more exceptional was the fact that it was the 10-year anniversary of this wonderful event.
The theme of this year’s conference was “Thai Elephant’s Next Normal”, and the event attracted an audience of over 300 people. Several lectures, academic presentations, and panels acknowledged the hardships many elephant owners and the whole industry faced during the pandemic but most importantly the focus was on the future and working together to rise the standards of Thai elephant husbandry.
In addition to summarizing the recent operations in the elephant hospitals and recent research and findings on elephant medicine, lectures were held on nutrition, establishing assessment system for professional qualifications for mahout profession, as well as elephants in the context of tourism, to mention a few.
New mandatory Elephant Camp Standard for Thailand’s elephant camps
One of the largest and most interesting topics was the new legislation concerning all elephant camps in Thailand that are welcoming tourists and visitors. The mandatory Elephant Camp Standard called “Good Animal Practices for Elephant Facility” is a certification by Department of Livestock Development and National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity and Food Standards, of which both are departments under the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.
It may sound surprising that an elephant camp or a sanctuary operating in tourism and conservation field would be certified by departments under the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, rather than the Ministry of Tourism and Sports or the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, but unlike wild elephants, the domestic Thai elephants are classified as livestock, in a same way as cattle.
Every elephant facility that accepts visitors must apply and attain this certificate by next year, 19th August 2024. In the National Elephant Conference, the representatives of the Department of Livestock Development provided consultation and preliminary assessment of documents prepared by the elephant camp operators. The auditing process is rather comprehensive and detailed, and it requires every elephant camp to have a designated veterinarian that oversees the health and medical care.
Elephant welfare at Elephant Hills
Elephant welfare at Elephant Hills has been audited by a third-party UK-based company, Global Spirit, with excellent results of 100% of core criteria reached. Several key areas in our elephant camp also attained the highest level 5 in exceeding expectations, one of them being the veterinary care provided by our onsite vet.
We embark on this new national certification process with confident and open minds, hoping we can learn something new to further improve the management of the camp and keep working on finding and implementing the best solutions and practices in animal welfare.
We look forward to keeping you up to date on the process!
Within our Elephant Conservation Project we try to help improving the welfare of domestic elephants by supporting government run elephant hospitals. We also contribute to wild elephant conservation by helping the Wildlife Sanctuaries and National Parks to prevent human-elephant conflicts. We are currently looking for companies to co-operate with our project through corporate sponsorship. Please contact us at [email protected] if your company would be interested in aiding the elephants in Thailand.
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