Elephant Logging

THE AFTERMATH OF ELEPHANT LOGGING

Thongbai, a 45-year old elephant with wounds from hauling logs, is treated at FAE’s Elephant Hospital. (Photo credit: Michael Wysocki).

by Michael Wysocki

You and I have chosen to care and be a part of a pure thing in this world, but no living creature is exempt from the wrath of Man’s greed.

Soraida works very hard to protect the FAE hospital, and anyone and any Elephant within it, from the corrupt, cruel, and judgmental realities of this world. But with the rains back and the trucks arriving with new patients, we are totally submersed into it. Thankful as I am, Soraida knows that without major change and cooperation from the government this will always be, until the elephants no longer exist.  She travels back and forth to Bangkok immersing herself amongst the tough and powerful politicians, speaking her voice without flinching.

I sense that Thailand, as other countries have before it, has reached a critical point to either protect its environment, which includes the human population, by protecting the forest and its inhabitants; or finish her off for some quick cash. Thailand can be a misleading place, almost like an illusion. My train ride from the south to north was full of natural beauty of what appears to be virgin tropical jungle, in my mind teaming with wildlife such as Tigers, Sun bears, Monkeys and Elephants. I was thrilled with even just the slight chance of spotting one of these species as I stared for hours out the window.  I actually knew that this was just me, again in my fantasy world, but I have always dreamed of that world and I refused to let it go, as does Soraida. There is still hope for Thailand; not only do the laws have to be changed, but they also have to be honored.

Facts and Thoughts:

In 1988 Thailand flooded from a heavy monsoon season that WILL come again, killing people and breaking the economy. Even right now on Thai news there are reports of “flooding in the northern provinces.” Studies showed the reason for the flooding was from all the deforestation, no root systems to soak up the rain. The Thailand Log Ban followed in 1989. So why is FAE hospital having to treat logging Elephants?

After the Log Ban of 1989, policies were created to “reforest” Thailand’s northeast by planting Australian Eucalyptus trees; how perfect for the rising demand of paper production and how worthless to Thailand’s villagers and natural ecosystem, including Elephants. This time, maybe use that opportunity to employ Thai people to replant Elephant corridors and return to an eco friendly way of living, helping to manage the land and take advantage of Thailand’s booming tourist industry by developing community based eco-tourism. More visitors will then make there way from the playful beaches of the south, and up to the north to experience a classic Asian jungle.

The logging companies in Thailand are running low on resources and the Elephant logging camps seem to be conveniently located near the Thai/ Myanmar border. Are they invading Myanmar’s virgin jungles? Is that why Myanmar has been laying land mines along the border?

There is no doubt this is our last chance as humans to do the right thing and save Thailand’s jungles, ultimately saving the Thai Elephant from logging slavery and creating hope for the wild Asian Elephant. Asian tropical jungle wood is still in high demand for furniture and continues to be exported to wealthier countries. This is a global issue that must be revealed. Thanks to Windy Borman and her production team, here is that opportunity.

We have two new patients here at FAE, both logging Elephants. Moghray is 25-years old and 17 months pregnant, based in Tak province, Thailand. A nail went straight up into her back right foot. I will never forget photographing the FAE team treat her wound when she arrived.

Thongbai is a 45-year old male based in the Phrae Province, Thailand. He is blind in his right eye and has a massive abscess on his back from hauling equipment. His image is the epitome of an abused Elephant.

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Michael Wysocki

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