My partner, a friend and I visited Maesa whilst staying in Chiang Mai, after 4 weeks of touring Sth East Asia I can honestly say this was the highlight of my trip, an amazing experience that I will never forget, loved getting up close with...More
This is why they use the hook! It is for tourism! It's a money making. The Ugly The Crush: 'Crushing' Of An Elephants Spirit The Tradition The Phajaan process originated in hill tribe communities in India and South East... More
This is why they use the hook! It is for tourism! It's a money making. The Ugly The Crush: 'Crushing' Of An Elephants Spirit The Tradition The Phajaan process originated in hill tribe communities in India and South East Asia, located in areas where elephants naturally occur. The ''ceremony'' of Phajaan is said to have originated from the belief that the tribe's shaman can separate the spirit of an elephant from its body, in effect driving the wilful and wild spirit out of an elephant and leaving it under the control of its handlers, i.e. mahouts. In reality, however, the Phajaan has nothing to do with the separation of spirit and everything to do with torturing an elephant until it is so fearful of its human captors that it will do anything to avoid being hurt again. 'The Crush' means "to divorce the baby elephant from its spirit" or to ''split the will" of a baby elephant. Phajaan or ‘Crushing’ is the traditional Asian torture of young elephants to break their spirit. It is done so that they are submissive to humans. Young elephants are frequently poached from the wild for the tourist trade; these elephants are more likely to experience the intense suffering of the Crush. When young wild elephants are poached, the elephants family will be killed – which is witnessed by the young elephant; generally leaving them extremely distressed, but because they are not used to human contact, the spirit is harder to break. On average 4-5 wild elephants will die as a result of one elephant being taken for the tourism industry. Today captive bred elephants which are not required to perform tricks and won't be used for riding may be let off slightly and their crush period is not likely to be as savage; positive reinforcement techniques are used more frequently nowadays. The brutality of the crush varies throughout the country and largely depends on the individual elephant owners morals as well as the working needs of the elephant. If there is little demand for performing/trekking elephants, then the demand for such savage training techniques will hopefully die out. Thailand Elephants | The Ugly: Crushing of The Spirit Thailand Elephants | The Ugly: Crushing of The Spirit The Ritual Baby elephants are tethered and dragged to a clearing where the crush cage is located. These fragile elephants will be kept in small crates, their front and back legs bound with ropes in order for their limbs to be stretched. Repeatedly beaten with sharp metal and other tools, the helpless baby elephants will be constantly yelled and screamed at. They are stabbed, burned and beaten, as well as starved of food and deprived of water. Bull hooks (a tool used in most forms of elephant control) will be used to stab the animal's head, slash the skin and tug the ears. Asian elephants used in trekking (elephant rides), circuses or any other form of entertainment, often have shredded or torn ears from their tissue being ripped and pulled away during the training process. They also often have scars on their foreheads from deep lacerations caused by beatings. The Phajaan may last from several days to weeks, most elephants go through it when they are 3-6 years, but they can be younger depending on the age at which they were taken from their mothers. They have no rest from physical torture and mental domination. Gradually, their spirits are broken, as their handlers achieve control. In the final stage of the Phajaan, the elephant’s mahout will bring the animal its first meal with water, and will be the one to ''release'' the elephant and lead it away from the crate. After weeks of torture, mental and emotional abuse, loneliness, confusion and separation, the elephant sees this human figure as its saviour – the one it trusts. This is just another stage of mental and emotional manipulation, of course, but it is how a particular mahout gains such immense control over its animal. Beatings can continue regularly throughout the elephants' life to remind them of their place. Some of these abused animals eventually snap from the strain of relentless torture, with 5% of captive elephants killing people! It has been scientifically proven that an elephant will never forget this torment.