Mahouts do not live all over this “Land of Elephants” province. Only
the Kui in a few villages are kui a-chiang or mahouts.
Ban Ta Klang, Tambon Kapho, Amphoe Tha Tum
This ancient Kui village has raised elephants for hundreds of years,
since the time when their ancestors settled down in the Dry
evergreen forest at the juncture of the Mun and the Chi Rivers. This
area had abundant food to feed retired war elephants, which were
earlier sent to Ayutthaya as tax in kind instead of being
In the old days, pachi, the head of mahouts, led a number of fellow
mahouts t ocatch wild elephants in Cambodia. The international
conflict in that country put a stop to this practice. Elephant
raising in Surin, however, continues unabated, as young elephants
are born every year.
The Kui reject the employment of elephants in hard work, such as
logging, which is more popular in the North. Elephants, like friends
or sons, grow side by side with them. Their bond is indivisible.
While no wild elephants are rounded up now. Domesticated elephants
prolong the art of mahouts. When youn elephant reaches the age of 1
or 2 years old, it needs to be trained to receive such orders as
helping mahout to its back, turn left-right, walk forward-backward,
In the former time, elephants were trained at home. Now there exists
an elephant training center near the Elephant Study Center, to train
teenage elephants. Elephant has good memory and can learn several
tricks with regular practices.
Elephant Study Center
The exhibition inside the center
displays the history of the village, and the equipment used in
elephant raiding, such as pakham rope, rope used in elephant raiding
made from buffalo skin, etc.. Show on elephant training can be seen
every Saturday during 09.00-11.00 am.
Women in the village also weave beautiful silk cloth, particularly
after harvesting season around December-January. In the afternoon,
tourists ride elephants to athe wood by the Mun River, and watch the
mahout bathing their elephants in th evening while enjoying the last
sunlight of the day.
The most interesting time
to visit the village is during November – December, as
many mahouts return home for harvesting season, and
undoubtedly for the province’s annual elephant show.
Group travelers who want to see elephant show durin working days
should contact Khun Prakit Klang-Tambon Kapho, Amphoe Tha Tum, tel.
967-5015, or Amphoe Tha Tum, tel.
Charges are 50 Baht for Thais and 100 Bht for foreigners. The
charge for riding elephant around the village or along the river is