Ann Reus, Feed Strategy senior reporter, covers offbeat animal feed-related news and other topics.
Lack of tourism during the COVID-19 pandemic has left elephant handlers struggling to pay to feed their animals
I’ve never had the chance to write about elephant feed before, but I recently saw a press release from CP Foods – a subsidiary of the world’s largest animal feed producer, CP Group – that said the company has donated 60 tons of elephant feed to help elephants in Thailand suffering from starvation and malnutrition as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The donation went to the Thai Elephant Alliance Association (TEAA) as part of the Thais Love Elephants Project. TEAA said the lack of tourism during the pandemic has affected elephants and their handlers, or mahouts. Without tourism dollars, the mahouts are struggling to pay to feed their elephants, and the elephants are in need of food and medicine, TEAA said.
“Mahouts and camp owners still have expenses for elephant management and care without the crucial income from tourists,” TEAA’s website says. “Elephants that are taken back to the owner’s homes have limited natural resources for food and are at risk of suffering from forest fires with restricted access to veterinary care.”
CP Foods said it donated 60 tons of its Erawan E3 elephant feed, which has been distributed under the Department of Livestock to elephant sanctuaries and agencies in 18 provinces.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has affected not only humans, but also the animals. Thai elephants are severely suffering from this crisis. In order to save them, CP Foods has joined the Thais Love Elephants Project for the second year, offering food supplements to keep the elephants, especially old and sick animals, healthy during the outbreak,” said Rewat Hathaisattayapong, executive vice president of CP Foods, in the press release.
The Thais Love Elephants Project was launched in 2021 as a crowdfunding campaign by CP Foods, Charoen Pokphand Group and CP All and True. It has raised more than THB2.8 million (US$78,000) and donated more than 120 tons of animal supplements to elephant camps nationwide.