(Produced in early 2020-2021)
Thailand is one of the largest wildlife tourism destinations. It’s home to approximately 3,800 captive elephants which are trained to entertain tourists. However, the pandemic has plunged tourism into collapse, forcing elephants and their mahouts out of jobs. Hundreds of them have migrated home and their lives are in peril.
This project is funded by National Geographic Society
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My hometown, Chiang Mai is one of the largest homes for Thailand's captive elephants and for tourist destinations.
When tourism collapsed, I followed a mahout family and their elephants who have spent their long lives in elephant tourism returning to the remote mountainside they call home.
The journey of a 5-day walk through the mountain forest in the dry season. I see many aspects of the bonding relationship between humans and animals amidst the hardship of the financial crisis and the low welfare for elephants.
This touching moment of embracing has motivated me to produce an ongoing work from my own perspective as a Thai person, to bring out the best understanding of this issue by traveling to different parts of the region.
Elephants in captivity in an Asian culture: people treat these giants like a member of their family. Even in the most difficult times, they will not let go of their elephants.