Social justice and environmental video from the Asia Pacific
As Asian elephants are now worth more dead than alive, the elephant trainers are key to the survival of the majestic animals.
The Mahouts, a Hindi word meaning elephant trainer, were once royal warriors in the Khmer Empire of Angkor Wat and the Royal Thai Army Elephants Corp.They are mainly hill tribe people from the Shan Mountains in Burma.Now, they no more ride their elephants into battle and with the logging ban in 1988 in Thailand, their role remains as elephant trainers for ceremonial and tourism purposes.In Thailand, elephants are regarded as domestic animals and most of them are born in captivity and are living amongst humans.Animal rights activist have often highlighted the cruel methods used by the mahouts to break the animal during training.A mahout is assigned to an elephant for life and a strong emotional and physical bond of trust and friendship exist between trainer and elephant.Training an elephant to do complex tasks requires more than brute force. It requires a far more intellectual and soft approach.The truth is, an elephant is worth more dead than alive and the Asian elephant is on the critically endangered list.The mahouts remain the key to the survival of the Asian forest elephants. As they ride these majestic animals through the forest, they relive past glories and ensure their very own survival on earth.
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