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Thai elephant

Thai elephant


Thailand is one of the few countries in S.E. Asia where elephants still play a significant role in timber work side by side with men and modern machinery .

The performance of Thai elephants at work is well known, it attracts an ever increasing number of foreign visitors to our Country .

The Forest Industry Organization, with potential task force of over one hundred elephants in forest working  and extracting of Teak in our Northern Provinces, realizes the debt of gratitude we owe these beasts of burden, our co-workers, that this booklet is written to introduce to the public the living story of the majestic creature toiling behind Thai  teak log admired and well know for centuries .

The Author hopes that this booklet will prevail to rouse our gratitude and esteem of the symbolic creature of ours .

With due acknowledgment and appreciation of the conscientious assistance he received in the preparation of the manuscript and collection of illustrations, the Author wishes to extend cordial thanks to Phulasakdi Sundhanond, Amnuay Soracharti and Manope Phirksawan, and, to our beloved pachyderms, in the spirit of recognition and gratefulness as evinced by the achievement of this booklet, it is gratefully dedicated .


Amnuay Corvanich
Managing Director
Forest Industry Organization
Bangkok, December 1976


The Kingdom of Thailand has symbolized the elephant as her sovereign creature . Our early royalties led victorious wars riding the war elephants . The greatest elephant battle of all times was engaged by the most famous of royal contestants, our revered King Naresuan and the Crown Prince Phramaha U’paraj of Burma . Another eminent king, Phramaha Jakrapaddhi, esteemed ruler of the Ayuthya dynasty, was acclaimed for his extraordinary animals, the rarely found white elephants, august auguries of his reign .

The Royal Thai Navy flies its flag of tri-colours with a white elephant prominently portrayed in the middle . The decorations and orders of the White Elephant were bestowed by H.M. the King . The recipients were cream of the military service officers, government officials and outstanding persons in diverst fields of endeavour .

It was altogether a fitting tribute to the forefathers of our elephants that we know today .

Timber working by elephant in Thailand was recommended by the foreign firms tasking up concessions in teak in Thailand’s northern provinces a century ago with the introduction of elephant as a beast of burden.

Employment of elephant in forest work was derived from nearby Burma and India whence certain evidences could be traced to the words of vocabulary and command in their native languages still in use nowadays by our people .

It is appreciated that, in timber extraction, the profession is a most demanding one . It offers high opportunity and earning to practitioners, contributing to the popularity of raising elephants to serve this specific purpose .
During the past decades, the work force of elephants was recruited from wild, captive and domesticated beasts but now nearly all of these intelligent workers are descended from breeding in captivity . Surviving wild elephants became rare and fewer in number as they were incessantly pursued by game hunters forming a wicked cadre of hillers . Their tusks of ivory are sought by collectors .

Timber working by elephant was prevalent in the northern and southern parts of the country while the instances of timber working by elephant in the north-eastern and eastern parts were scarce in comparison and found working by elephant particularly in light work routine .

Attending each  working elephant involved 3 persons comprising 1 mahout or rider, 1 foot-mahout or assistant, and the elephant’s owner .

According to the pieces of information provided by the Ministry of Agiculture and Co-operatives, there are about 12,000 working elephants in Thailand, indicating, in turn, direct employment of the 36,000 persons involved . Moreover, indirect benefits to the country’s economy would be so extensive and farflung that even professional foresters would be bound by reticence to venture a virification .

Timber working by elephant, often deferred in favour of mechanized undertakings in contemporary forestry, still remains in practice in a few countries in S.E. Asia . In Thailand, estimable practice has become a national art and heritage to be vested and preserved for posterity .


The elephants of our time could be classified into 2 distinct filial types of African and Asia . Asian elephants are natives of the following countries-Thailand,Burma,India, Sri-Lanka,Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Malaysia . The different species, or African ones, though very much alike in appearance, are in different genus,like buffaloes are different from oxen . Cross-breeding of African and Asian species has been tried by scientists who will pursue with continued perseverance and hard work the difficult task they hope to accomplish .

In summary, their salient traits of heredity may be enumerated as follows :-

1. The Asian elephant ( Elephas maximus )

The full stature of a mature Asian elephant is usually 3 metres from ground to the topmost point on its shoulders . The male bears a pair of tusks of ivory while the female is deprived of the said adornment . In rare exception, however, she can be seen bearing her pair of small tusks . Some males, called “ Si-dor,” can be tuskless . They are often bigger and better workers . Looking at the head of an Asian elephant, two lobes on its forehead will be  clearly discerned, its ear-pads flapping with the upper rims extended level with its frehead, the trunk ends in a pointed tip to catch things .

There are 4 nails at each of its front legs, 4-5 nails at each of its hind legs . The back is curved, higher at a forward point and slightly lower toward the rear and habitual traits are displayed by its predisposition to lethargy in moist and cool places where it saunters, lolls or idle .

Possessing a bigger skull , the Asian pachyderm is endowed with a bigger brain than its African cousin . The beast is very intelligent , amenable and an apt student in whatever task it is trained to do , whether it be a clever circus performance or strenuous forest working .

2. The African elephant ( Loxodonta Africana ) .

A mature African elephant stands taller than an Asian one , its height is approximately 3.5 metres . Both male and female bear tusks so that identifying by tuskers can be misleading . The African elephant’s forehead is smaller comparing with its Asian cousin’s narrow and one lobed headed . It has noticeably bigger ears , widely spreaded when angry , the upper edges set higher than its forehead . There are 2 pointed lobes at the tip of its trunk , each hind leg with 3 nails and its back usually runs in a straight line . It prefer open habitat and is a good heat-bearer . Being endowed with smaller brain , due to smaller aperture in its forehead , the African elephant is fierce and temperamental . In intelligence and in work training , it is rather retarded and slow .

Besides the 2 filial types cited above , there appears to be another minor , smaller species , called “Pigmy elephants ,” roaming the Congo river basin , their population dwindling with each passing year . Their meat is partaken by African .

In Thailand ,  the diminutive elephant’s  existence was recorded in a document written by a noted Thai Zoologist . Dr. Boonsong Lekakul , who attested that he himself witnessed a few Asian dwarfs along the shores of our inland lake at Songkhla . Recounting his extraordinaty experience , he observed that the creatures were tiny , standing only 1.5 metres in height , or as tall as a water buffalo . The species is now extinct . It was a sad story to retell . But with due foresight , these lovable strangers in our midst might not be lost managed somehow to thrive for all the world to admire .


All elephants , whether they are African or Asian , shared common tendency in their nature that bound them in fraternal congregations of their own kind . Elephants stayed together in herds , of5-10 heads , with an elected male as leader .

Larger herds were encountered emblacing 20 heads or more . The leader was usually the strongest bull to defend and provide for the “family,” by leading the search for fodder , water and shelter . A wile elephant , an isolationist by nature , tended to fend for himself . He is cantankerous , at times even dangerous .

Asian elephants preferred clement climate . It was customary that working should start very early and lasted all forenoon to let them rest afterward . It was important also that 3 consecutive days of working should be interrupted by 2 days of working should be interrupted by 2 days of rest . It was harmful to the pachyderm to be pushed beyond his limitation . Despite its immense size , an elephant is easily affected by illness and hard work without letup .

Every summer, March to May, our elephants would cease working entirely to return to nearby jungle for their resting period. Such long vacation, as was referred to by us as their “going to resting camp,” would rest and rejuvenate our elephants.

As previously mentioned, a male elephant of the Asian variety is usually a tusker, a picture of dignity itself. He is some 50 centimtres taller than a she. The non-tusker male, however, defends himself quite well against any antagonist, tusker or not, than sometime he is an equal or even superior combatant. A female is shorter, sleeker, with a bony face and a wee bit less dignity than the opposite sex.

The male is a formidable 4 tonner. Lifetime of an elephant is a hundred years in average.


Generally speaking, Asian elephants are intelligent and mild-manners. They are easy to manage and to train for works in forestry and other callings. The trained elephants are good disciplinarians. They accept and love their owners and mahouts.

Elephants of both sexes reach their musth period once in a year usually during the cold winter months when they become nasty and dangerous. The misdemeanor disappears shortly thereafter except for the few heads with inherent violence and bad conduct from birth.

Their intelligigence is almost human the elephants display it in the most gratuitous manners. The female’s feelings of love and concern toward her young are constant and touching, I would recount to you the legend giving an eyewitness’s account that  a mother elephant was seen standing at vigilance for 3 days, crying and desolate, by the side of her young’s grave.


The elephant is a short sleeper by any standard, requiring only 3 to 4 hours daily from 11.00 p.m. to 3.00 a.m. of the next morning. The act is accommodated without ceremony by laying itself down on its side and going to sleep, yawning and snoring like human. If an elephant is found sleeping standing, an ailment or something wrong with it may have been the cause of this incongruity.

During its wakeful hours, the elephant is usually on its feet searching around for food. It cosumers 250 kilogrammes of fodder daily. It carries fodder held in place between its tusks and trunk while walking, slashing out dirt by beating same against its feet. The elephant’s stomach, unlike cattle’s, has single digestive functioning.

When the elephant is gorging itself with edibles, it passes occasional droppings. By simple looking for and following these droppings, the elephant is caught and  led back by its mahout.

60 gallons of clear drinking eater per drinking water per elephant is required daily. Due estimate of the available drinking water source and glazing area has to be carried out beforehand to ensure plentiful supply of same.

To deter the elephants from straying too far afield, the mahouts resort to fastening weight or canehobble on the front legs of their charges.
The elephant is a herbivorous animal, feeding on the grasses, plants, fruits, barks, etc, which come under the grouping as follows:-

  1. Grasses-Saccharum spoutameum, S. fucum or S. arundinaceum, Arundo donox, Cyperus spp., Imparate cylindrical, Thysanolaena maxima, Costus specious, Cynodondactylon, Is chaemum aristatum, Echinochloa crusgalli, Ischaemum rugosum, Eleusine indica, Pani cum plicatum.

  2. Bamboos-Cephalostachyum pergracile, Bambusa arundicacea, Thyrsostachys siamensis, Dendrocalamus strictus, Oxytenanthera nigrociliata, Pendrocalamus membranacrus, bambusa polymorpha, Bambusa polymorpha,Bambusa tulda.
  3. Creepers and Ficus-Ficus spp.,Ficus heterophylla, Tinospora nuduflora, Acacia pennata, Ocaconcina, Entada scandens, Celastrus pani culata, Ipoemoea turpethum, Toddalia aculeate, Calamus spp., Cissus repand, Hedyotis dimorpha, Toxocarpus hosseusii.
                         4. Trees, plams and shrubs-Musa spp., Artocarpus in tegrifolia, Clerodendron infortunstum, Strychnos
             nuxblanda, Crataeva spp., Bauhinia malabarica, Tectona grandis, Bombax malaboricum or B. 
             insigne, Albizzia proera, Lannea grandis or Orina wodier, Cocos nucifera, Ficus hispida, Phyllanthus 
             emblica, Ailanthus fauveliana, Eugenia elephantum, Irvingia malayana, Figus bengalensis,
             Tetrameles nudiflora, ficus religiosa, Car yota ureus, licuala peltata, Libistona speciosa speciosa,
             Zalacca wallichiana, Phoenix acaulis.

         5. Cultivated crops-Coix lachrymal joli, Oryza sativa, Zea mays, Saccharum oficinarum, Setariaitalica,
             Agave Americana, Cajanus indicus.

            The elephant is accustomed to search around for the items of food it takes by itself but when it is working and living close to the village in the company of mankind it is given choices of delicacies like paddy, banana, sugar cane, coconut leaves, papaya, etc. It is suggested that, for the benefit of the domesticated elephant living away for so long from its natural habitat in the jungle, salt is one of the most important items to supplement in its food ration. As a mild laxative, a ball of tamarind fruit is given to each elephant once a week. They like it so much that it is our practice to induce the sick ones to take medicines hidden in these tamarind fruit balls.

There is  predilection in the food habit of elephant, so much so that the change of may reduce their appetite to daily food consumption resulting in the loss of endurance and stamina. Ten years ago, a foreign firm in Thailand sent a number of healthy elephants employed in forest working to its branch in Borneo. Though no unbecoming signs were revealed, the work they performed dropped sharply  and abruptly. The cause of this inconsistency was found in the native fodder given to them. They found the new diet incongenial that the quantity taken was as a result much less than usual.


The productive span of a female Asian elephant prevails on her 15th through 50th  years. Unusual cases of very young mothers were recorded that once in Burma a female of 9 years and 1 month of age gave a difficult birth to her young. The new born did not survive.

The mating of elephants, like cattle, is consummated by a male astraddle a female, his front legs rested upon her hips. Contrary to popular belief, the mating of elephants is not hidden but an instinctive, eloquent act which comes naturally, days or nights. It is said that the elephants are ashamed they find hiding places from us. That is incorrect. We rarely are withesses because the elephant stay away from villages when they mate.

The pregnancy is a long drawn one, lasting 21 to 22 months, and is often undetected. Oftentimes a pleasant surprise was in store for us that, without prior inkling of the special even we came unexpectedly on the scene of a mother and her child together one fine morning.

There are two telling signs of pregnancy in elephants. The first indication is the swelling of a female’s breasts with milk flowing. The second is indicated by her hesitancy or resistance to work. When a pregnant elephant is expecting her baby, she will rely on one of her companions-to assist during her labour and to be god-mother or ’auntie’ to the new born. A soft and grassy nook is chosen wherein she will retreat with her friend when the moment is approaching. The expectant mother remains on her legs, hind legs well apart to facilitate the arrival of her child who will be assist in freeing and taking care of the baby for her for a prolonged while till the baby’s wet, sticking hairs dry. It is then led toward its mother to feed on her milk.

The nature, in her healing ways, has observed a certain length of time before joining mother and child on their fist encounter. At leisure, the mother is left to herself and undisturbed to recuperate and recover from pains in giving birth and she feels the instinct of loving her child from then on.

It was a sad case that just a few years ago one of female elephants gave birth to her first child. The lively youngster dried itself so rapidly that, with a short lapse of only one hour, it rose on the its feet and walked to lapse of only one hour, it rose on its feet and walked to it mother. The irascible mother, still suffering and excitable, attacked her young in a sudden fit f anger, maining and killing the baby instantly. It was unfortunate that  an “auntie” was not there to prevent the incident the baby of the friend in her custody for hours until she was assured that the mather regained her full comprehension and calmness to receive her new born.

A new born baby elephant is a very delightful creature to behold, lively and demanding, with tiny trunk, long hairs and rather stout body. Is about 75 centimetres in height and about 100 kilogrammes in weight.

The female elephant has 2 busts, one for each sucking child. The baby feeds on the nourishing milk of its mother, by raising its tiny trunk until it mouth is in contact with the nipple. It then reaches up and sucks greedily from it. It was a misunderstanding that sucking by baby elephant was done the other way round, by using trunk to draw in milk and siphoning same into the mouth. This is not correct.

The milking period of a baby elephant lasts 3 years after which the weanling is taught by attentive mother or auntie to find young, tender grasses to graze on. The mother and her friend take turns at watching and taking care of the young during its infancy that, on numerous occasions, the greater share of responsibility is assumed and born by the latter.

The young elephants are playful and mischievous they unknowingly bring catastrophe upon themselves. There were deaths of snake-bite from their friendly encounter with the venomous prowlers. There were injuries, borne by crippled or maimed youngsters, from playing the rolling logs games as well as countless other calamities, unwittingly courted by them.

A female elephant gives birth to a baby at a time, 3 or 4 times during her entire life. The birth normally occurs at intervals, about 3 years apart, and mother elephants free to roan the countryside will have more offsprings than those of their captive, hardworking sisters. The environment plays a significant role in this respect.


Training of young elephant begins on their 4th or 5th year. Older students are obdurate they are harder to teach.

There are 2 stages to the training of young elephants as follows-

1. Basic training. First by being put into wooden crush and learning and obeying the words of command, wearing hobbles and dragging gears.

Getting to know mahout-to-be, mounting and dismounting, riding, and bathing.

After one month in basic training, the young students would have been taught elementary lessons and exercise they would be released from the wooden crush to proceed to the next stage.

2. Timber work training.

In this second stage, the students would be taught to work successively at kneeling, picking things, bowing, single dragging, double dragging, rolling, pushing carrying, etc.

They would learn working with and getting used to the commotion and noises of the various machineries employed in forest working like trucks, tractors, power chain saws and, to and from logging sites, loading themselves on trucks for quick trips. There would be classroom work and field work, up hills and down streams.

For this stage in their training, a leisurely 4-year course would be pursued by students, graduating as they will, at the age of 10, to tackle the real task with competence.


At the age of 25, an elephant is at his prime performing with high productivity until he reaches 50, after which, its physical endurance being subdued, it is permitted to assist in less strenuous functions up to the age of 60. At this limit of his usefulness, he is retired and set free to seek deserved rest. For the remainder of his life, he will be visited regularly by a veterinarian who will check on the state of his health.

To proceed, it is ascertained that the energy quotient of elephants is lower than human’s that is in turn lower than horses. So as you will see from studying the figures hereof, the elephants are rather weak despite their gigantic size. Full grown elephants are rather weak despite their gigantic size. A full grown elephant can haul a maximum weight of about 2 tons, or an annual cubic content of about 450 m3 of logs at a standard distance of 1 kilometre along a moderate terrain. The lifting power of the bull tusker is not exceedind 700 kilogrammes and we are careful not to usurp its strength in the summer that due precaution is taken against the likelihood of breaking its tusk or tusks. Loading capacity is rather limited, at 100 kilogrammes per elephant per trip. The figure is lower for loading down hill than up hill. The walking speed is like human, approximately 4 mph and a walking distance of about 20 kilometres per day.

When travelling from province to province, elephants are allowed 3 days of continuous walking with immediate rest of a day or two before their resuming the journey. It is mre profitable, therefore, to resort to trucking them from place that the practice is a prerequisite of the FIO Young Elephant Training Centre located in Lampang Thailand.


Musth is natural symptom of health full grown elephants, males and females, when tey reach mating age from 15 to 40 years.

The sign of musth in an elephant of either sex is indicated by the swelling of the elephant’s temperal glands above both cheeks. The swelling is about the size of an egg. A hole opens at the bottom end of it letting out a pungent, sticky fluid which attracts a suitor. If the new comer finds out that the subject of his attention is not a female at all, but vice versa, he will show his disappointment and indignation by provoking and fighting the offending male who, being detained by big chain as were others in the same condition, will be at a disadvantage to defend itself.

To subdue the potent, obtrusive small bonfires are lit to produce smoke screen around the confinement area.
Musth occurs at varied times of the year for a brief period of 2 of 3 weeks or months while the elephant is on rest. The afflicted elephant will exhibit dangerous tendencies of hostility and aggression towards human beings. The deranged male, more excitable than the female, will not recognize and get wild even with its attendants and owners. Through special care and serving of 30-40 green melons a day, The elephant’s recover can be hastened that, following the pause of the smelly fluid, it will be released from its confinement to het on with working routine.

Recognition of musth is simple, by observing the male elephant’s reproductive organ which is unsheathed and wet with drippings of semen. The occurrence is year-round but the mating time of elephants is more spontaneous in winter which is a time of relative quiet and rest for them.

The elephants are busy at work during the rainy season they do not find time to mate. We found out that, through hard work and diet, musth could be circumvented.


Like human beings, elephants are recognized by appearance. A healthy one is tall, with full face and broad forehead, bright eyes and musculay legs, its back curved with a falling line from bead along its entire length toward the rear. It looks a picture of dignity standing in full height. A tusker is preferred with a strong and smooth pair of tusks, the edge of ears should not be lagged. A healthy male is a dynamo of energy. It is in whirling motion even when immobile and it eats continuously. It wweats profusely through the edge of its nails at labour.

Elephant with bad omens-like hooked tails, bad walking gait, uncouth stance, etc, -are believed to be harbingers of misfortune and distress.


White elephants are august auguries of the reign they are granted pre=-eminence and privileges by the statutes, enacted in 1921, vesting the rights on statutory proprietorship and patronage to the Sovereign.

According to the official verification and designation, there are 3 distinct classifications of the white elephants as follows.

  1. The pre-eminent elephants.

The elephants under this category are the most celebrated and rarest of our white elephants. They show the following 7 items of identity markings-

White eyes
White palate.
White nails.
White hairs.
White skin.
White hairs on the tail.
White testcles.

  1. The unique elephant.

The elephant which bears one out of seven items identified above.
Technically speaking, the 2 foregoing groups are a cartain kind of albino, a species infrequently found in elephant family.

  1. The rare elephant.

The elephants under this category are those with deep black skin, banana flower-bud shaped tusks and black nails.


Elephants in captivity are proned to numerous diseases. Our elephants are often careless in their working habit, they are easily harmed by thorns or pointed saplings, causing abscess or inflammation of the skin, jungle flies lay eggs at the roots of the elephants hairs, each larva worming its way deep into the skin by the hair-hole, causing a skin-gall.

Filarial is a common heart disease among elephants contacted through the bites of mosquitoes and flies. They release eggs of Filaria fever’s worms into the blood vessels which, in due time, will be blocked by worms of the dreadful Filaria.

A few years back, one of our elephants, picture of will-being and full health, was overtaken by sudden death while it was on its feet, idly grazing on grasses. The heart was taken out of the corpse and examined by a veterinarian who found a big worm lodged within it, its irregular shaped body and tail measured 50 centimetre and 1 metre in length respectively.

Anthrax is another serous malignant bacterial disease of the elephants, an epidemic rampant in cattle.
Hemorrhagic Septicemia and Surra are frequent causes of suffering in elephants.


Most of our elephant population live in the boundary called the Cental plains, the North, the North-East and the South respectively.

Permit for exporting elephants is sought and obtained from competent authorities before effecting shipment and young, 8-year old calf must be registered at the local district officer’s offices.



In recent times there has been a marked reduction in the number of elephant in Thailand. Wild elephant populations have declined along with the destruction and degradation of their forest home, and as a result of hunting for their ivory, for the capture of baby elephants, and to prevent crop-raiding. Captive elephant numbers have also declined due to increased injury, ill-health and deaths resulting from forcing elephants to perform unnatural and cruel tricks, bringing them into cities to beg, and using them in illegal logging, when they are often fed amphetamines to force them to work harder and longer. All of these issues are of great concern to a growing number of people who have witnessed them directly, or otherwise been made aware of their existence.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives now has a policy to solve these human-caused elephant problems, which includes, as one of the short-term priority actions, the establishment of centres to accommodate unwanted, abused and confiscated elephants in each region of the country, in areas under the control of the Ministry, including National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries, National Reserve Forests and Non-Hunting Areas.

Lampang Province in Northern Thailand, is a province which has many agencies and projects related to the management and care of domestic elephants, including the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre, The Elephant Rehabilitation Centre Bang-La, Elephant Kantoke Foundation, the Office of the WWF Thai Elephant Conservation Project, and the Royal Elephant Reintroduction Project of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit of Thailand.

In Addition Lampang Province also has the honour of being granted the privilege to allow nationally important Royal Elephants to stay temporality in the Royal White Elephants Stables of Lampang.

The Royal Elephant Reintroduction Project is one project which has started to play an important role in the conservation of globally-important endangered large mammal species, with the world’s first controlled reintroduction of 5 elephants released by H.M. Queen Sirikit into Doi Pa Muang Wildlife Sanctuary, over the last 2 years, with the interest and support of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Thailand Project Office and WWF-UK.

1999 will witness the auspicious occasion of the completion of the 6th 12-year cycle, as H.M. King Bhumibol The Great of Thailand celebrates his 72nd birthday on the 5th December. To mark this occasions, and in consideration of the readiness of government agencies and the private sector, and the appropriateness of the location, Lampang Province has launched “Elephant World Thailand”, a project to “Create a New World for Elephants in Lampang Province in Honour of His Majesty”  through implementation of the Ministry of Agriculture’s policy recommendation to create an area for elephants in upper northern Thailand.


  1. To honour His Majesty, on the occasion of the completion of the 6th 12-year cycle.

  2. To implement the elephant conservation policy recommendations of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.

  3. To reduce the severity of the national and international problem of elephant use in illegal logging.

  4. To differentiate elephants (especially illegal logging elephants) into defferent categories, appropriate to their condition, which will determine their future management and care, based on established criteria.

  5. To extend ongoing elephant conservation efforts in Lampang Province.


Located on an area of 383 rai along the Lampang-Chiang Mai Highway between km.28-29 Tumbon Wiang Tan, Amphoe Hang Chat, Lampang Province. Thai Elephant Conservation Center is operated by the Northern Forest Industry Division, Forest Industry Organization.

The Forest Industry Organization firstly formed the center for elephant baby training at Mu Ban Pang La Amphoe Ngao, Lampang Province in 1969. The center was subsequently moved to the present location in Amphoe Hang Chat. It was officially opened by HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn on March 4, 1992.


To enhance Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.
To conserve Thai elephants and distribute knowledge to interested persons.
To promote ecotourism and provide medical treatment and care to sick elephants.


There are 2 shows on Mondays to Fridays at 10.00 a.m. and 11.00 a.m. and additional show on weekends and festival holidays at 1.30 p.m. Elephant redes daily from 08.00 a.m. – 3.30 p.m.


From Lampang, take the Lampang-Chiang Mai Highway to k.m.28-29, about 30 kms. far away from town.
From Chiang Mai and Lamphun, drive along Lampang-Chiang Mai Highway about 70 kms. And 40 kms.


  1. Thai Elephant Conservation Center

Km. 28-29 Lampang-Chiang Mai Highway,
Tambon Wiang Tan, Amphoe Hang Chat, Lampang.

Tel. (054) 229042, (054) 228108

  1. Northern Forest Division or Thai Elephant Conservation Project.

Tel. (054) 228108, 227-051, 227-623
Ext : 139, 140, 141  Fax. (054) 226-163

  1. Forest Industry Organization BKK. (02) 282-3243-7


Request the pleasure of your company at the Sa-Toke dinner and the Sa-Toke for Elephant Fair on the first Friday Saturday and Sunday of February every year at Thai Elephant
Conservation Center (about 28-29 km. from Lampang)
Lampang-Chiang Mai rd., Amphoe Hang Chat, Lampang.


The Thai Elephant Conservation Center, which is located on the Km. 28-29Lampang-Chiang Mai Highway, Tambon Wiang Tan, Amphoe Hang Chat, Lampang, is one of the most interesting places in Lampang. This center serves as a training school for young elephants, a sanctuary for retired elephants and an elephant hospital. It is well-known as the only elephant’s training school in the world, so Lampang’s people are very proud of it.


There are more than 40 elephants under the Center’s custody-owing to the expenses provided to sustain these elephants. The Lampang Province and the Center have jointly arranged a fund raising, Sa-Toke for Elephant Fair, the funds will be used on food for the elephants and other elephant conservation projects.


The First Sa-Toke for Elephant Fair was well recognized by the public. Therefore, beginning in 1996, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) put the event into the yearly tourism calendar. The funds gained from the first fair were used to establish and register th Sa-Toke for Elephant Foundation. Today, the foundation has raised over one million Baht. The interest of this fund is used on food tor the elephants and elephant conservation projects.

We would like to express our sincere thanks to all visitors who come to the Thai Elephant Conservation Center in Lampang Province.

We hope your visit to our center will be a memorable one.

Please do come again. You are most welcome to our center.