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Pattaya Daily News

13 June 2006 :: 16:06:51 pm 21639

The Elephant Village

The Elephant Village was opened in 1973 as a sanctuary for former working elephants.
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   These Elephants, through reasons of injury or ill health, can no longer be used as a part of the backbone of heavy work in the jungles of Thailand. Also because of their diminishing habitat, it is now longer possible to return them to the wild.

The Elephant Village provides then magnificent creatures with a safe haven, where they may live out their lives with dignity and freedom from fear. A visit to the Elephant Village is not only unique experience, but it is also a lifesaver because the fees paid by our visitors contribute to, the very survival of the elephants, both now and in the future.

The Elephant Village is a private company, which is run on a non profit making basis and after running expenses have been deducted, all of the proceeds go to feed, pay the medical bills and generally take care of the elephants. It receives neither government support nor sponsorship from any large company or international organization.
Pattaya Elephant Village was opened in 1974. It runs a three to six month course on elephant handling and participants live and work with elephants under the supervision of experts. There is also a short course on making herbal medicines and a certificate is awarded to those who successfully complete the course.

Pattaya Elephant Village also organises on request visits to Phrae Province to see elephants working in the timber industry in a jungle environment. 

The Cost is $US 675.00 per person (minimum of four persons), inclusive or return fares within Thailand, hotel accommodation, a night safari tour and the use of a four-wheeled vehicle during the visit.

The Elephant Show:
This show takes place daily starting at 14:30 hours and last until 16:00 hours. This show includes demonstrations of Elephant training techniques, bathing, traditional roundup methods and the Glong Sabad Chai ceremony with a war elephant. At the end of the show, visitors will have the opportunity to take a short ride on the back of an elephant. The cost of the show is 500Baht.

Elephant Trekking:
One hour Elephant Trek: This trek takes place five times daily at 08:30, 10:30, 12:30, 14:30 and 16:30 hours. It consists of a one-hour trek on the back of an elephant, in a traditional riding seat, through undeveloped bush and forest, surrounding the Elephant Village. At the end of this trek, you will return to the Elephant Village by four wheel drive Land Rover and be offered complimentary fruits in season.The cost of this trek is 900 Baht

Combination Trek: 
The Combination Trek takes place twice daily at 10:30 and 16:00 hours. It consists of a one-hour elephant trek, followed by a 30 minute accompanied forest walk with an English speaking member of staff. This is followed by a 20 minute rafting trip across a local lake, again accompanied by an English speaking member of staff. After which you will be met by a team of ox-carts and brought back to the Elephant Village for a home cooked buffet lunch or dinner, prepared to internal standards. The cost of the Combination Trek is 1,900 Baht.

The sound of the drums, heralds the approach of a victorious Thai army. Behind the drummers, there follows a war elephant, dressed in traditional style, together with, an infantry escort. This was known as the “Glong Sabad Chai‘.The elephant was used on the battlefield in Thailand, India and other countries in South East Asia for many centuries. The war elephant has great strength and a terrifying appearance. It can trample men under foot, batter down obstacles, and strike terror into the hearts of inexperienced soldiers and untrained horses.

Contrary to popular belief in some parts, of the world, however, the elephant was not the forerunner to or a substitute for the modem tank. In fact, there are many recorded instances, where elephants, used in this capacity, were of more danger to their own side than to the enemy.A wounded or panic stricken elephant could easily get out of control and turn on his own side, causing chaos and destruction. The problem is that an elephant, unlike a tank, is made of flesh and blood, not metal. Although it has a thick hide, this hide is not thick enough to stop the penetration of sharp pointed metal objects like arrowheads and javelins. In India, war elephants carried a driver and generally three warriors armed with bows and arrows on castle like structures on the animal‘s back.

These warriors might also use javelins, knives and pots of oil or even stones. Elephants were considered to be so important in Indian warfare, that one prince had an elephant corps 9,000 strong. In Thai warfare, the elephant‘s greatest use was that of a war mount, for kings and commanders of armies. When employed in battle, the war elephant carried three persons on his back.

The king or commander, who sat alone on the elephant‘s neck in order to fight the enemy commander in direct mortal combat. This was a little like the individual contests between warriors in the “Heroic Age” of Ancient Greece or the jousts between knights in armour in Medieval Europe.

The tactical commander sat in the middle of the seat, strapped to the animal‘s back, handling either two flags or peacocks tails to signal directions of movement to the soldiers below. A third soldier sat on the elephant‘s hind quarters, in order to drive the animal and take care of the weapons attached to the middle seat.

The war elephant was surrounded at all times by a bodyguard of up to eight foot soldiers, known as “Chaturonkbath”. It was their duty to protect the elephant‘s legs from a surprise attack or other cowardly maneuver by a dishonorable enemy. The sight of the king or commander of the armies, seated on the back of the elephant and overlooking the battlefield, must have been truly magnificent and a great inspiration to his soldiers. But he would also have been highly conspicuous and vulnerable to enemy projectile weapons.

This vulnerability and indeed the role of the elephant on the battlefield began to be questioned in the seventeenth century, when large numbers of Europeans began to arrive in South East Asia. The reason for this questioning was because these Europeans brought with them, new and terrifying weapons, efficient hand held firearms.

The most notable of these weapons was the musket. It was a deadly weapon, which could kill a king, a commander or indeed an elephant at a distance. It did, however, have two major failings, which to some extent mitigated its effectiveness. It had a slow rate of fire, approximately one shot per minute, and it was inaccurate over a distance of more than two hundred yards.

European armies had developed tactics to overcome the musket‘s shortcomings and these could be adapted to take account of the elephant‘s traditional role on Thai battlefields. By the mid nineteenth century, however, the accurate and fast firing, repeating rifle had replaced the musket.

This development not only changed the battlefield, but it made the lung or commander and also the elephant too exposed to distant attack. So the elephant was quietly retired from the battlefield. He did, however, continue to do valuable service for the army in a support role, even as recently as the Second World War, and he proved to be an inspiring sight in parades and at ceremonial functions.

Phairat Chaiyakham Co.,Ltd.
54/1 Moo 2, Tambol Nong Prue, Pattaya City, Chonburi 20260 Thailand.
Elephant Village : Tel & Fax.: (038) 249-818, 249-853 , 249-174
Home page : http://www.elephant-village-pattaya.com
EMail : info@elephant-village-pattaya.com

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : PDN staff   Category : Travel

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