Elephant in Betong

I watched the elephant for some time, he was dancing happily!

In Betong, once in a while we will find mahouts bringing their elephants to the town and try to make money from tourists by selling food for the elephant. The last time an elephant came to this town was about half a year ago. I still remember that I was shocked when I saw the elephant and mahout walking along the road on my way to Yala. I was told that they can walk extremely long distance from and back to their original home to make a living. I also learned that an elephant can walk an average of 30km per day!

Lately, we can find an elephant strolling around the streets, brought here by truck by the mahout family of four. They came far away from Surin Province, stopped and stayed in some towns as they moved down South. According to the family, the transportation cost from Surim to Betong was about 30,000Baht. Normally they stayed in each place for about one month. After the excitement about elephant in that town was over, they moved on to another town.

The mahout family and the elephant have been in Betong for about two weeks, working from around five o’clock in the evening when most of the tourists start their night life, till around nine o’clock at night. According to the mahout family, the elephant is inherited from their parents and is already 20 years old. This is the best youth life of an elephant because like human, in both the wild and captivity an elephant is considered old at 60 years old.

During day time, the mahout family prepares the favourite food for the elephant-sugarcane or banana, in their simple and crude rented house. The elephant will be kept in the wide land, not far from the main road. According to them, though they can sell more than 1000bahts of food per day, it is still not enough to satisfy the elephant. However, they are quite easy as the elephant can have free food provided by the wild land.

The mahout family/Food for sale

Few months ago in Betong, there was a tragedy. An elephant while hauling logs, suddenly went out of control and killed a man and then escaped. Some of the roads were closed and people were warned to be alert with the elephant.

Though the elephant is friendly and lovely, I still think it is very dangerous for an elephant to stroll around the town. What if the elephant become emotional, being in an unfamiliar surroundings with people and cars?! Besides, the fact that an elephant produces 50kg of dung a day anywhere is really not hygienic!

Feeding fun/Honey, let’s try!

Kissing my car/The relaxing elephant

7 responses to “Elephant in Betong

  1. Hai i’m from Malaysia. I would like to know more about Thai interest places to visit. For an example i like to shopping, what is the famous places to visit.

  2. Elephants arent carnivores, so their dung isnt (that) unhygenic.

    Put the sh1t on your roses 🙂

  3. Believe it or not, it’s now actually illegal to pecker your elephant around the town streets begging for food.

    This is Thailand however and law enforcement isn’t exactly a great Thai attribute.

    Im sorry but i don’t buy any sugarcane or bananas for elephants roaming the streets. There have been too many sad stories of cruelty to animals in the media over the past few years.

    Now, Betong is not too bad for an elephant but it’s the ones that are made to walk the streets of Bangkok that sadden me most.

  4. They make paper out of elephant dung in Lampang (and elsewhere in N.Thailand)


  5. Few unfortunate incidents of the elephant should not let you take any action against them!! For that matter, humans commit many crimes and we still stick around with them.

    Of course, elephants would be better of in the wild areas. And we in the villages.

  6. Hi,

    I’m from Kuala Lumpur. I would like to ask the following questions

    1. How far from Kuala Kangsar exit to Border (Pengkalan Hulu)?

    2. Where do i park the car for overnight? is it safe?

    3. If i want to drive the car cross the border, do i need to buy Thai Insurance? if yes, how much?

    4. What is the recommended hotel?

    5. How far Betong town from the border?

    Thank you

  7. Joe, you will probably get answers to your questions if you join the Paknam Forums site and post them there.