Center of Elephant and Wildlife Research, CMU Conducts Intensive Research of Welfare for Captive Elephants

5 September 2019

Corporate Communication and Alumni Relations Center (CCARC)

Associate Professor Dr. Chatchote Thitaram, D.V.M., PhD. Lecturer, Head of the Center of Elephant and Wildlife Research, CMU and Dr. Pakkanut Bansiddhi, D.V.M, Ph.D. Lecturer, Department of Companion Animals and Wildlife Clinics, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Chiang Mai University has informed that the center has studied health and welfare of captive elephants in elephant tourism camps of the northern part of Thailand since 2015 in order to assess the welfare of elephants and identify the factors related to management causing effects to health and welfare.

In this research, 34 elephant camp owners and managers were interviewed about general management and care of elephants. The study also collected samples of blood to check metabolic values that physiologically relates with obesity. Physical examination of elephants to assess body condition, foot health, and skin wounds. Furthermore, fecal samples were collected to measure levels of stress hormone.

The results discussed that elephant camps in the north have different management in activities for tourists and elephant care. Those aspects are housing, methods of controlling elephants, food and water, health care, geriatric care, pregnancy and parturition, neonatal care, elephants in musth, and breeding management. Elephant camps can improve welfare for elephants by allowing elephants to sufficiently walk for exercise and reducing quantity of food that has high calories in order to prevent obesity. Avoiding use of concrete floors and never let elephants walk for an excessive period in order to prevent feet and nail problems. The use of suitable equipment for control will prevent wounds from restraint. Controlling the number of tourists per day and providing social interaction for the elephants can reduce stress.

This study is beneficial for developing standards of elephant care by the country, which leads to improving welfare for elephants and assuring the tourists to make a valid decision on visiting elephant camps.

After ending this research project, there is distribution of this research to the public by various channels, from local conferences, national, and international level stages, including publication for dissemination which there are 7 articles in scientifically recognized international journals.

This research project has been supported by the Royal Golden Jubilee Ph.D. Program Scholarship; Thai Research Fund; National Research Committee of Thailand; Chiang Mai University and Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, U.S.A.