Phuket Elephant Beach Day: Playful Pachyderm Frolics In Thailand Sand (PHOTOS)
Scottish photographer John Lindie snapped these awesome photos of an elephant frolicking on the beach at Thalang, Phuket in Thailand in November 2009.
While there's no way to know exactly what the pachyderm is thinking, he sure looks pretty happy rolling around in the sand to dry himself after a swim.
In an e-mail, Lindie recalled that the juvenile elephant's name was Lucky, and that this encounter was part of a tourist activity arranged by a hotel. Lindie said that Lucky lives in a nearby nature sanctuary with his parents, and that the elephant's guardian made sure that he was given space and regard by the tour group.
According to Lindie, there was no riding of the elephant and his guardian was "very vigilant to ensure Lucky wasn't crowded or spooked in any way."
"Lucky's parents had been rescued from a known poachers area somewhere in Thailand and taken to a new safe location on the Island [Phuket] where they had successfully created a family," Lindie wrote.
Lindie described the Lucky as a "playful little fella" in his Flickr photo stream.
Known for its beautiful beaches, Phuket, an island and surrounding province in southern Thailand, is a popular tourist destination.
According to Phuket.com, elephants are native to the cooler, northern part of Thailand, where they were once used as beasts of burden in the logging industry. As that resource faded, many elephants and their mahouts -- trainers -- migrated south to work in tourism.
Although there has been controversy surrounding elephants in Thailand, the domestication of these beasts is deeply rooted in Thai culture. For centuries, elephant training was a traditional occupation passed down through generations.
Asian elephants are an endangered species and are threatened in Thailand by habitat destruction, meat and ivory poaching, and a clandestine industry that sells baby animals as pets, according to the Thai Society for the Conservation of Wild Animals.
Tour companies, such as Siam Safari, have helped care for domesticated elephants by setting up a veterinary clinic and launching awareness campaigns. As part of one such campaign, merchants who did not sell ivory would prominently display stickers that read "Ivory Belongs On Elephants." (Source)