The sight of the elephants caught my attention as I was crossing the road towards the entrance to Maya, a large shopping centre in Chiang Mai and I was mesmorised by the stunning colours. Gazing around I saw about 15 or more uniquely painted elephant statues on display and realised that they were about two metres high and all facing towards the main road. Elephants fascinate me; I enjoy looking at them, particularly baby elephants; elephants make me feel happy. I started taking photos of each statue and and was intrigued by the artwork, the colours, the details, the stories. A banner caught my eye – Elephant Parade Chiang Mai 2016 – and later that evening I decided to learn more about this Parade and that was when I was introduced to Mosha and the Elephant Parade Exhibition.
In 2006, Mosha, a beautiful baby elephant was a patient at the “Friends of the Asian Elephant” Hospital in Lampang about 100 kilometres from Chiang Mai where she was being treated from injuries received when she stepped on a landmine and lost part of her front leg in the explosion. She was just seven months old. Mosha recovered from her injuries and is the first elephant to have a prosthetic leg fitted. She is a happy, healthy elephant who is loved by many and her story is repeatedly told in order to raise awareness of the plight of the Asian Elephant. Mosha requires constant medical attention and the molds for her leg require regular changing as she continues to grow and develop.
Asian elephants are suffering daily as their natural habitats are destroyed and consequently their population is declining and in the words of Mike Spits, the Founder of Elephant Parade –
“The elephant will become exist in 30 years if we do not do something right now”
The art of the painted elephants is energising and intended to create interest and raise positive awareness of the need for change. We must strive to ensure no more animals are injured or killed by landmines and do everything in our power to maintain their natural habitats and safeguard their existence. The Elephant Parade will continue in Chiang Mai until the middle of January 2017 and about 90 decorated elephant statues will be exhibited across the city at various locations as the foundation continues to fundraise so that their vital conservation and education programs can continue. The “Friends of the Asian Elephant” Hospital, the first Elephant hospital in the world, offers free care to any elephant, regardless of the circumstances.
The injuries and killings caused by landmines is intolerable and abhorrent and the use of them must be stopped. Landmines do not discriminate and are a danger to all creation, adults, children and animals during times of war and conflict and years later during times of peace. http://www.icbl.org/en-gb/home.aspx
It was only when I started to insert the photos into my post that I noticed the black ribbon on the front right leg of each of the elephants and was once again touched by the sincerity of the Thai people. Following the recent death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej the people of Thailand are still in mourning for their beloved and respected King.