Nearly all the people of Thailand are Theravada Buddhists. They revere elephants and treat them as part of the family. Elephant keepers will sacrifice food and shelter to ensure the safety and comfort of their elephant herds. Many herds have been passed down through several generations. Children are raised to be part of the family business of training and caring for the family’s herd of these beautiful animals. While treated as pets rather than working animals, Thai elephants are part of many family businesses such as tours.
Elephants are a protected species in Thailand, but the Thais have no objection to using them for work duties. Many elephants are used to haul lumber and people through the dense jungle growth. Elephants do not need roads or even stable paths to find their way. Many elephants are used as basic transportation where the rivers are shallow. Riding an elephant on a jungle trek is one of the featured activities on many Thailand tours.