The impact of coronavirus on elephant tourism in Thailand

We’ve all heard the news about the devastating impact COVID-19 (coronavirus) has had on people, businesses and economies across the world.

What hasn’t been as well documented is the effect the pandemic has had on elephants and other animals in captivity.

There are an estimated 4,000 captive elephants in Thailand, most in the tourism industry. ‘Elephant tourism’ can mean anything from baby elephants being made to pose with tourists for selfies, to those who live in sanctuaries.

Because elephant tourism is funded solely by people visiting the venues, the effects of coronavirus have been fast, far-reaching and detrimental. Overnight, venue owners and individual elephant owners have had their incomes slashed and are therefore struggling to feed their elephants and their own families.

We've received many messages about the situation, and people asking what they can do to help. We've answered some of your most frequently asked questions, and listed the ways in which you can help below. This will be updated regularly as the situation changes. 

What does it cost to feed an elephant for a day?

According to Trunk, who recently carried out an audit on the venues they support, it costs approximately £47 or 60 USD to feed one elephant per day. Prices vary drastically, the cost of supporting an entire venue (medicine, running costs, food, accommodation, etc) is approximately £20,850 / 26,700 USD per month, or £695 / 900 USD per day.

It costs the Thai Alliance 2,500 £60 / $77 a day to feed 10 elephants 2 tonnes of food. It is dependant on where the elephants are living, what food is available, the manual labor required and what distance is needed to travel.

Is the Thai government helping?

At the time of publication, (April 2, 2020, updated 20 April) the Thai government has not said it will help elephants in tourism. Although they have now been requested to consider giving long term help, relying on donations and goodwill is unsustainable to feed so many elephants.  

How can I help?

There are so many ways in which you can help the elephants and their mahouts whilst getting something awesome in return for you or a loved one. Find out now

Note: This information is correct as of April 21, 2020. 

Charity Registration No: 1167849

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