And the tragedy continues for the elephants of Thailand:
Once the revered symbol of Thai culture, the backbone of industry and the protector of the country’s sovereignty during war, elephants now wander the streets of Bangkok, reduced to providing rides for tourists and helping their owners beg for their next meal.
With their drivers — mahouts, they are called — the elephants dodge Bangkok’s chaotic traffic and the feeble attempts of the government and the police to push them out of the city.
Many elephants were put out of work when logging became illegal in the 1980s, making it difficult for their owners to feed them. Wild ones have been hunted and driven from their natural habitat. It is estimated that there are now 2,500 domesticated and 1,500 wild elephants in Thailand, down from around 50,000 in 1950.