|From the left mahout house you get a nice overview.|
|In 1569 Maha Thammarachathirat was installed as king of Ayutthaya.|
I was also happy to meet Sangduen "Lek" Chailert, owner of Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai. I have had correspondence with Lek for some years, but visited to her park only some months ago, upon her kind invitation. Lek and I have a slightly different approach to elephant management, but still I respect her work a lot, and Im impressed of what she has achieved, in taking care of elephants. Now and then politics in animal management becomes the nuclear issue in discussions, and people tend to focus on diffrences, rather than which opinions they have in common, in various discussions, almost forgetting the elephants, during their debate. Lek does not posses such extreme attitude, and I know we share a common passion for elephants, in such an extent, that elephants have become an important, maybe a major, part of our lifes
She told me about an elephants babys death yesterday, which was killed by its mother, and showed me the spot, still giving evidence of a tragical accident. Throughout the modern history of captive elephant breeding, it has now and then occured that a female elephant, mostly giving birth for the first time in her life, has attacked her baby, sometimes killing their babies. In my database, I have listed many such cases. Its not as rare among captive mammals as one would think, and the numbers of this in the wild is unknown. And though those news was very sad, indeed a tragic for the baby elephants owners, such things occur very seldom, although hundreds of elephants concentrate on the Surin stadium during the festival. Dozens of young elephants and babies were brought to the elephant this year, without any accidents, except for this single one. The mother was transported to the owners village, and hopefully, her next birth will be more succesful.
Hardly any country in Asia are so succesful in elephant captive breeding, as Burma and Thailand. On the pictures, a small baby is peacefully sleeping beside her mother, while houndreds of elephants stand around, and people pass by her every second. If used to people, activities, and public, elephants cope well with gatherings like this. Stress only occures for poorly, or untrained elephants.
Lek also showed me her favourite photo spot, a platform for the public to mount elephants for riding, and from there we followed the show, competing in taking pictures. When I was proud to have taken hundreds of pictures, (in reality x) Lek claimed she took over thousand, and I believe her, her camera clicked like a machine gun...
After spending her life with elephants, she still seem to be highly passionate for elephants, and their coexistence with humans.
From our spot we watched the football elephants and other elephant showing tricks, while the most enjoyable is the final part of the show, the war elephants.
So what was the war about?
In 1592, Ayutthaya was attacked by the Burmese again. Minchit Sra, along with the Lord of Pyay, Natshinnaung the son of the Lord of Toungoo, and the Burmese King of Lanna, led the Burmese into Siam.
King Naresuan was now fighting for the liberty from Burmese rulers.
The history legends say that King Naresuan of Ayutthaya confronted his enemy Minchit Sra with a single combat on elephant: Naresuan then urged Minchit Sra to fight with him: "My brother, why do you hide yourself in the canopy shadows? Let us fight the elephant battle for our own honors. No future kings will do what we are going to do."
This single battle between the two warlords is known as Yuddhahatthi, the elephant battle.
After narrowly missing Naresuan and cutting his hat (on display in Bangkok) Minchit Sra was slashed to death on the back of his elephant. This was on Monday, the 2nd waning day of the 2nd month of the Buddhist calendar Chulasakarat Era year 954. Calculated to correspond to Monday, 18 January, AD 1593 of the Gregorian calendar, this date is now observed as Royal Thai Armed Forces day.
This show is supposed to be the largest gathering of elephants throughout the world, and is kept annually on the third saturday in November. Its highly enjoyed by the excited visitors, and people come from all over the world to Surin during this weekend. But its not only an elephant show, the visitiros also get a brief insight in the culture bewteen man and elephants, which, in spite of so many welfare organisations, still survives and prosper in Asia.
The show ended with a gathering of all elephants, this years reaching a number of 280 elephants of varoius ages.
|A homage was made to Bhumibol Adulyadej, king Rama IX of Thailand.|
|The Tatto of one of the mahouts|
Ban Ta Klang is situated some 62 km north of Surin town, and is accessable by bus, which takes one hour. This ancient Kui (or Sui) village has raised elephants for hundreds of years. In the old days, Pachi, the head of the Mahouts, led a number of fellow mahouts to catch wild elephants in border of Thailand and Cambodia. In Ban Ta Klang you see hundreds of elephants in one single day.