Announcing JEAM or Jerry’s Elephant Awareness Month! What’s this all about you might ask. Well gentle reader, I’m glad you asked. Here in Thailand there seems to be a dichotomy when it comes to the elephant. For those of you who also read www.asianelephantstories.blogspot.com you will know that this is almost a duplicate of an article posted there on the 19th of September. The photographs have been changed for this blog.
On his way to be released
(See "The Journey" at AsianElephantStories)On one hand the elephant is truly revered in Thailand. Elephants are a critical part of Thai history. Epic battles were fought with the warriors riding elephants. They have been called tanks in time of war and trucks in time of peace. They appear in all aspects of Thai mythology, history and culture. They are used in marketing and advertising to a very great extent. “Chang” means Elephant in Thai; Chang beer is the most popular and heavily advertised brand in Thailand.
Menu at Taste from Heaven, Chiang Mai
Chedi wall at Wat Pra Sing in Chiang Mai
Chedi at Wat Pra Sing, Chiang Mai with Elephants protecting all four sides
On the other hand the elephant has been and is being exploited by man. The suffering is horrid, just horrid. From logging, now illegal and mostly eradicated in Thailand but still legal and prevalent in neighboring Burma, to street begging to tourist performances and trekking elephants are being abused.
A baby Elephant working the streetsElephants are known for protecting their young. If one is startled the whole family group, as many as six or seven elephants, immediately surround and sooth the baby. Take that baby away from it's mother, it's family and make it walk the streets. The poor things are terrified! Look at the expression of the baby above and then look at the image below!
Protected and Loved!Enter JEAM. For the next month every time I go anywhere with a camera I’ll be collecting images of elephant things. Signs, brands, statues, stuffed toys and anything else I happen to see. I’ll then share the images with you in hopes that when you see them you will feel a bit of compassion for the real elephants here and around the world. Oh, since we are on Thai time and to commemorate the 18 to 24 month gestation period that elephants endure to continue their species, Jerry’s Elephant Awareness Month will from today through the last of October and may continue into early November depending on my travel schedule.
Available at Chiang Mai's Walking Street, I've gotta buy one these!