CHAINED elephants stranded inside Thai wildlife parks face starvation after the coronavirus killed off the country’s tourist trade.
Campaigners warn some of the captive jumbos may now even end up working tortuous hours in the country’s illegal logging industry in the wake of the pandemic.
A sudden and huge drop in foreign tourists – mainly from China – has forced the closure of dozens of elephant parks across swathes of Thailand.
Each elephant can put away up to 660lb of food EVERY DAY and the debts are starting to mount up, while owners are struggling to make ends meet.
Conservationists warn the helpless animals – many of whom have suffered for years – now face an even bleaker future.
“My boss is doing what he can but we have no money,’ said Kosin, an elephant handler working at the Chiang Mai camp.
He revealed the elephant he looks after – called Ekkasit – is now surviving on a drastically cutback diet.
An estimated 2,000 elephants are currently ‘unemployed’ as a result of the pandemic, revealed Theerapat Trungprakan, president of the Thai Elephant Alliance Association.
He now fears the giants could soon be used in illegal logging operations along the Thai-Myanmar border and some may even end up ‘begging’ for food on the street.
Thailand has been rocked by more than 1,650 infections and 10 deaths since the country’s first case was reported in January.
Bangkok topped the list of confirmed cases with 796, followed by Nonthaburi (79), Phuket (55) and Yala (48).
Among those infected are 27 Bangkok police officers and at least 19 medical personnel.