Unemployed elephant handlers and their elephants from Pattaya are walking 500km to their home in Surin

Banglamung, Chonburi –

Five elephants from Banglamung in the Pattaya area are currently walking over 500 kilometers to their home in Surin after their mahouts and family have been unemployed for a year due to the lack of foreign tourists in Thailand and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Today (April 6th) the Pattaya News met them near the Mapprachan Reservoir. Five elephants were walking along the road with two pickup trucks staffed by mahouts at the front and in the back.

Ms. Napalai Maigngam, 26, told The Pattaya News, “Five of us are from Surin. We worked at elephant farms in Huayyai for more than five years. We have five elephants who worked with us with mostly foreign tourists.”

“Before we received 15,000 baht plus some tips per month per elephant for our job.”

“Since the Covid -19 pandemic last year we have no money as there are no foreign tourists. We had been waiting for the situation to relax for a year now and hoping that foreign tourists would be allowed in without quarantine.” Napalai stated.

“Finally, we gave up. We plan to move back to our hometown in Surin with our elephants who we have raised and consider part of our family.” Napalai continued.

“Our elephants have to walk as we don’t have enough money to hire trucks for them. Some of us will be walking with them and some are driving in trucks escorting them.” Napalai continued.

“The distance to our hometown is 500 kilometres which will take about two weeks.” Napalai continued.

“Many people are giving food to the elephants on our way and coming to take pictures. We are heading North on Road Number 331.” Napalai stated.

“Anyone who wants to help us with elephant food can contact us at 093-3357062.” Napalai concluded.

The Pattaya News notes that since this story was in our Thai and associated press earlier in the afternoon several offers have reportedly come in to help transport the elephants home.


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Goongnang Suksawat
Goong Nang is a News Translator who has worked professionally for multiple news organizations in Thailand for many years and has worked with The Pattaya News for more than four years. Specializes primarily in local news for Phuket, Pattaya, and also some national news, with emphasis on translation between Thai to English and working as an intermediary between reporters and English-speaking writers. Originally from Nakhon Si Thammarat, but lives in Phuket and Krabi except when commuting between the three.