“These majestic Thailand elephant are large loving animals that are intelligent, kind, strong and provide many benefits to their forest and community.”
Many people may not know that Asian elephants, including those in Thailand, are classified as “endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The increased human population, agricultural areas, and global warming have destroyed viable forest areas that are the home of these elephants. From 2009 to 2013, the area of lost forests was comparable to the entire “Bangkok City”.
One factor that we’ve never considered as a key to help reduce global warming is elephants – particularly the way they live or eat.
Here is how the elephants help reduce global warming.
- The more elephants, the more forested area. If the elephant population increases, forest areas will also expand to support the growing population.
- The livelihood and eating habits of the elephants in Thailand help reduce carbon-per-volume density in the atmosphere because they often choose to eat fast-growing plants rather than slow-growing ones.
This claim is backed up by recent research done by Stephen Blake, Ph.D., an assistant professor of biology at Saint Louis University, USA, and his team. The study uses a mathematical model to explore what happens to the wild when there is no elephant. The findings show that the elephant’s eating behavior results in the higher growth rate of slow-growing plants.
“We have studied the population of elephants in the wild together with the ecosystem. We found that forests, where elephants live, have a higher proportion of slow-growing plant density,” said Stephen.
A good example of the slow-growing plant species is lignin, which has high carbon molecules stored in the trunk. Carbon molecules have long contributed to global warming, and when they are kept in those trees because the elephants refuse to eat them, we are one step closer to stop heating the atmosphere.
The research team also predicted the value of the ecosystem that stored carbon molecules above or below ground (carbon storage service) with elephants present in it to be up to $43 billion.
Now let’s explore some key information about Thai elephants to gain a greater understanding of this wonderful species.
Elephants have long bonded with people, whether they live in the forest or the elephant sanctuary. Thai elephants in particular, have strong ties with the social, economic, religious, cultural, or even warfare histories of the country. Thai elephants are integrated with people of all classes of society, ranging from ordinary villagers to the monarchs. Therefore, Thai elephants are considered to be an irreplaceable symbol in Thailand.
Thai elephants in nature live in the rainforest particularly in the northern, northeastern, western, and southern provinces such as the Klong Saeng region and 5 other interconnected provinces. Aside from wild elephants, Thailand also has multiple elephant nature parks or elephant sanctuaries. Some of you may have heard of Chiang Mai elephant sanctuary, elephant sanctuary Pattaya, and elephant sanctuary in Phuket. Bathing with elephants or feeding them are examples of activities that you can do when you visit these sanctuaries.
At the moment, Thailand is in the process of drawing up a law called the Elephant Act. The act is designed to ensure good quality of life, health, and well-being of the domestic Elephants in Thailand, as well as to maintain the standard care, preserve and protect the welfare of all elephants, and the management of the elephant habitats.
In addition to being a symbol in our society, their presents’ all over the country such as in Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Phuket, and Samui island help with the reduction of the ever-progressing global warming crisis. Their benefits extend beyond their highly intelligent and loving personalities. It is time for us to emphasize the importance of Thai elephants in today’s conservation before it is too late.
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