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The Human Cost of Elephant Tourism


Mahouts rest as their elephants eat fruit in Chiang Mai

While Western activists focus on the animals, their handlers are often treated as expendable.

It should have been a day like any other in Mae Wang, Thailand. But at one elephant camp in this small rural district just outside the tourism hub of Chiang Mai, the elephant handlers, or mahouts, were on edge. Somjai, a five-ton bull decked out with a pair of meter-long ivory tusks, was in musth, a hormonal phase characterized by huge increases in testosterone and aggression. By Hilary Cadigan. Read more.