Greenpeace Southeast Asia

What do ancient elephant poachers and Greenpeace have in common? by Chuck Baclagon
A mahout elder stands before an elephant while waiting to perform a Pa-Kam ritual, a traditional ceremony to call on mahout ancestors for for good luck and safety before an elephant journey.

A mahout elder stands before an elephant while waiting to perform a Pa-Kam ritual, a traditional ceremony to call on mahout ancestors for for good luck and safety before an elephant journey.

September 12, 2009

We launched the Chang(e) Caravan last Saturday with a traditional Thai mahout ceremony called the Pak-Am. Now, if you knew what the Pak-Am was originally, you’d wonder why on earth it would be part of a Greenpeace project launch!

The ritual’s origins can be traced to a centuries old Khmer (now Cambodia) practice –a mahout prays for safety before he goes into the jungle to catch elephants.  In other words, it’s a ritual that originated with elephant poaching.  Yes–you read that right –elephant poaching.

Interesting, eh?  But these days, now that elephant poaching is (thankfully) illegal, the Pak-Am has taken on a milder forms.

One is as a rite of passage for mahouts—to be a respected mahout one has to pass the Pak-Am.  (In the past, this meant that the mahout had to have caught 11 to 16 elephants.)

The other is as a ceremony before a long journey.  The mahout elders pray to the spirit of ancestor mahouts for good luck and safety before setting off with their elephants.

The Pak-Am last Saturday (according to a mahout elder) was special—the last time a Pak-Am was practiced was 15 years ago.  The eldest mahout should know–he’s more than 80 years old and has been a mahout most of his life.

You can see the Pak-Am’s poaching background in the photos.  At the center of the table is a long raw-hide rope or moose similar to what
mahouts used in the previous centuries to catch elephants.

Elephants and Thailand go back a long way and elephants are revered as noble creatures in this country.

It’s hard to grasp that idea tho’ unless you’re Thai and have read about elephants in your history books and and folktales all your life.
You read about elephant warriors going to war with kings on their backs, and so on.

For Thai people a ‘domesticated’ elephant is a normal thing, much like a dog or a horse is domesticated in the west.  Their word for
elephants in captivity (as opposed to elephants in the wild) roughly translated is “home elephant.” Wild elephants are “jungle elephants.”

But in the last century, elephants have also become beasts of burden and have worked for miners and loggers, destroying their own forest homes.  When they lost their “jobs” (when the trees were finished and the mines were closed), they stopped being useful and ended up begging in the streets.  More recently they’ve become spectacles for tourists, performing tricks much like in circuses in the west.

The backgrounds of the elephants in the Chang(e) Caravan aren’t any different.  They are elephants in captivity, most likely poached when they were younger, but (sadly) can no longer survive in the wild.
The best thing that happened to them is that TERF (Thai Elephant Research and Conservation Fund) has taken them in as part of an
educational campaign to help conserve the few remaining elephants in the wild.

But the best thing that _should have_ happened to them was they should not have been captured at all.

Poaching is already illegal in Thailand but it continues to happen. There are only two to three thousand wild elephants left in the
country.  Elephants in captivity number at around 200.

At the same time, there are only around 65 mahouts left in the country, and only twenty of them are mahout elders.

It won’t be possible to release elephants in captivity back in the wild.  But protecting the remaining elephants in the wild might mean
that the tradition of keeping elephants would have to be discouraged.

And while we’re at it: protecting the remaining elephants also means protecting their forest home.

Protecting their forest home means protecting the climate.

Protecting the climate means protecting our world for future generations.

which is after all why we’re here on an elephant caravan, walking 200 kilometers to try to change the world 🙂

Lea Guerrero

22 Comments so far
Leave a comment

[…] Originally posted here: What do ancient elephant poachers and Greenpeace have in common? […]

Pingback by What do ancient elephant poachers and Greenpeace have in common? :Thailand Hotel Promotion

I stand here today humbled by the task before dofus kamas, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our cheap dofus kamas. I thank President dofus for his service to buy dofus kamas, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Comment by Barack Obama

Hello! This is kind of off topic but I need some help from an established blog.
Is it very hard to set up your own blog? I’m not very
techincal but I can figure things out pretty quick.
I’m thinking about making my own but I’m not sure where to
start. Do you have any ideas or suggestions? Many thanks

Comment by Hotel en Irati

Hello mates, its fantastic paragraph on the topic of cultureand fully defined,
keep it up all the time.

Comment by Florida FR44

Hello there! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I truly enjoy
reading your articles. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that cover
the same topics? Thanks!

Comment by Jobs for A finance major

I got this site from my pal who told me on the
topic of this web site and now this time I am browsing this site and reading very informative
content here.

Comment by sites para ganhar dinheiro

Facile,cahoteuse Gémeaux au cours de reconnaître après heureux comment
pirater un compte facebook facilement et gratuitement sans logiciel.
interpréter à partir de par pirater un compte facebook linux.

Comment by comment pirater un compte facebook

According for the Teacher Training Agency, 34,400 future teachers
began tactics pertaining to 2004. If you do not the bug then essential ingredients .
to look deeper into what you really want from life.

Comment by Försäkringsförmedlare

Fluid Setup: IT must be able to quickly and easily set up new
users. With some new functions it promises cater to the needs of the end users effectively.
Maintenance of the security for private data through SSL offload feature.

Comment by citrix protocol nvidia display driver error vista

Hmm to wydaje jak twój Blog zjadłem mój pierwszy komentarz (to był bardzo długo), więc chyba będę
po prostu podsumować to,co napisał i powiedzieć, jestem dokładnie korzystających
bloga. I a także jestem początkujący blog pisarz ale nadal jestem nowy na wszystko.
Czy masz jakieś po raz pierwszy pisarzy bloga? Chciałbym na pewno Doceniam to.

Comment by

Great web site you have got here.. It’s hard to find quality writing
like yours nowadays. I really appreciate individuals like you!
Take care!!

Comment by how do you get bigger breasts naturally

Our 30-yard choice is ideal for mid-size reworking jobs whereas the
40-yard solution is perfect for new construction. In the event you demand timely
dumpster rental options, Kerneli Dumpster Rental delivers
exactly what you want. Along with offering quite a few dumpsters, we also make the rental process as straightforward as attainable.
We wish to assist with your roll off dumpster wants, so name us at
800-330-7410 today. These are the biggest of all Waste Administration dumpsters.

Comment by Dumpster Rental Collbran, Colorado

Herpes simplex virus will not like cold.

Comment by Julissa

Angry Fowl Epiic mɑkes use of Lesser Essence ߋf Friendship to extend үοur possibilities
to roll fօr more stars օn the die to energy-up off-hand objects ɑnd weapons.

Comment by angry birds epic hacked

Hi there, I do believe your site might be having
internet browser compatibility problems. When I look at your website in Safari,
it looks fine but when opening in I.E., it’s got some overlapping issues.
I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Aside from that,
fantastic website!

Comment by Adrianna

When someone writes an piece of writing he/she maintains the
idea of a user in his/her brain that how a user can know it.

Therefore that’s why this piece of writing is amazing. Thanks!

Comment by Jerri

6 Ways to Get the Guy You Want to Give You His Phone Number.
Put your self respect and your own interests before your relationship with
him. You come to your own conclusion, but if it were me.

Comment by language of desire pdf

I visit daily a few sites and blogs to read articles or reviews, but
this weblog gives feature based content.

Comment by GoodGame Empire Pierre Illimité

Unquestionably believe that which you stated.
Your favorite reason appeared to be on the net the simplest thing to
be aware of. I say to you, I definitely get annoyed while people think about worries that they plainly
don’t know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the
top and also defined out the whole thing without having side-effects , people could take a signal.

Will likely be back to get more. Thanks

Comment by silahkan kunjungi web

This is really fascinating, You are an excessively
professional blogger. I have joined your rss
feed and look ahead to in search of extra of your magnificent post.
Additionally, I’ve shared your web site in my social networks

Comment by silahkan baca artikelnya disini

That is a really good tip especially to those fresh
to the blogosphere. Simple but very accurate info… Thanks for sharing this
one. A must read article!

Comment by klik untuk selengkapnya

Actually no matter if someone doesn’t know after that its up to other people that they
will help, so here it occurs.

Comment by

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: