Surin Annual Elephant Round up


History of Surin Elephant RoundUp

About 50 kilometers away in the north of Surin, Krapo Sub-district, Thatoom District and Nanongphai Sub-district, Chumphonburi District are the homes of native people, called Guai or Suai. They have trained the elephants to be the domestic animals and use them as the animals in the ceremony. The villagers prefer to feed their elephants, that’s why they recognize the elephant by the name of the village. The elephant village situates near the bank of Moon and Chee river. The land where the elephant village situates now, in the past was a rich forest.

On November 19, 1960, Mr. Winai Suwannakard - Thatoom’s former district - chief officer, has promoted the elephant round - up at the old airport which is now the area of the Thatoomprachasermvit School. The purpose of the round - up was to celebrate the new district office. The activities consisted of many interesting events such as an elephants parade, elephants racing and the elephants capture. The first roundup was very interesting by to both Thai and foreigners and so, by public relations, was spread all over the world.

One year later in 1961, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) realised the possibility of tourism and began supporting and setting up the procedure of performances while persuading the tourists to visit the roundup.

In 1962, The cabinet agreed to take the elephant round - up in Surin on as the annual fair of the nation. Mr. Kamron Sungkhakorn - the Surin Governor at that time has moved the elephant roundup site from Thatoom to the provincial stadium because of the inconvenience of the old site. Until now the provincial stadium is known and accepted as the Surin Elephant Show Stadium.

The majestic Thai elephant has long been a central element in Thai culture and has held a respected place in Thai history. A symbol of power and grace, the elephant was revered by the ancient kings.

Elephants have been prominently featured in Thai legend, literature, art and architecture, and during the reign of King Rama II, an image of the auspicious elephant, symbolic of the King, was featured on the flag.

In daily life, as man and elephant depend on each other, the elephant is treated as part of the 'family'. The everyday life of the Thai elephant and its keeper is the central theme of the world-famous Surin elephant round-up held annually.

The Ban Ta Klang Elephant Village in Surin Province is the home of the Kui, who, for centuries, have tended to and trained elephants for use throughout Thailand. These handlers have great respect for their elephants.

The majority of elephant owners and mahouts in Thailand today are descendants of the "Kui" tribe (or "Suay" in Thai). They are thought to have migrated from Cambodia to settle largely in the northeastern provinces near the Cambodian border. Known for their expertise in capturing, domesticating and training wild elephants, the life-long relationship of the mahout with his elephant is an integral element of Kui culture, tradition and the way of life. The elephant is his companion and a family member.

TAT News