Myanmar elephants



Should we visit working elephant camps?

Should we visit working elephant camps?

1 Feb 2017

Dr Chan Aye, Myanmar Beauty Hotel, Taungoo, Myanmar. Tel: 09-5350525. Email: drchanaye@gmail.com

This is a popular topic we’ve discussed with our clients, these years. The answer of this question should depend on individual concepts, believes and feelings. But before judging, may we ask our clients to read this?


    When they cut and extract wood, only one kind of wood in enough size is allowed to cut in one area for one year. This means, the trees which are allowed to cut are in a distance from each other with other types and sizes of trees in between. This is called selective cutting system. The benefits of this system are:

  1. We can let the other trees grow naturally.
  2. This is the system, which minimize effecting the top soil and so as environment.

After cutting, we use elephants to extract from the place those are cut to a place where the logs will be piled up and picked up by trucks. It is absolutely not possible to use machineries for this job because we have natural forest and use selective cutting system. If we want to use machineries, we have to make road to every tree and that will ruin more than 70% of the whole forest just by making roads. So, we have no other way rather than using elephants. The benefits of using elephants are:

  1. Elephants eat forest weeds and elephant dong is natural fertilizer for trees.
  2. Using elephants can minimize the use of fuel and lubricants for machineries.
  3. Using elephants for wood extraction provide many jobs for local people.

According to studies, domestic elephants used in timber business are healthier and live longer than natural wild elephants. This is mainly because of care by elephant masters and regular and on-call medical care by veterinarian doctors.

According to all the facts above, we are very glad that we still practice the selective cutting system and still using elephants for wood extraction. On the other hand, we are using cows for ploughing rice fields and nowadays, those are replaced by tractors and ploughing machines. We are concerned very much that, one day, using elephants will also be replaced by big machineries.

Starting from about 10 years ago, government is promoting teak plantation. When these teak plantations will be ready to be cut in next 30-40 years, we are afraid people will use machineries, as those are more economic.

Now, we have informed information about using elephants for wood extraction. The rest is to be decided by the clients.

In any case, if there are clients still confusing about that and still want to visit a resting elephant camp, where elephants are not used for wood extraction and only given care, we can arrange trips to such camps around Taungoo, as well.