ISSP [2011] : Thai Elephants: An Evaluative Study of Contemporary Living Conditions for the Betterment of Asian Elephants in Thai Culture

Asian elephants are endangered, the population is continuing to decline, and there is concern for the well-being of this cultural icon. For this project, we performed an evaluative study of Asian elephants in Thailand and the effects of locations within Thai Culture. The project goal is to assess elephant well-being and understand what influences their quality of life. We identified categories of locations, created and verified criteria to evaluate these locations, compiled observation and interview data on specific locations, and analyzed the results of our findings. We concluded that there is no ideal location for elephants in Thailand that provides a high standard of living. We also concluded that domestic and wild elephant conservation are very different. Our studies show the coexistence between humans and elephants in all locations included in our study and that human perception directly affects the well-being of elephants in those locations. Consequently, we recommend that wild and domestic elephants be treated separately in conservation efforts, locations that provide substandard living conditions make gradual improvements, and thathuman perception be altered to better the lives of elephants in Thailand.