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LOCAL WISDOM OF DOMESTIC ELEPHANTS IN PHANOM DONGREK-XEPIAN CULTURAL ECOLOGY

SUWAT UNTHANON : LOCAL WISDOM OF DOMESTIC ELEPHANTS IN  PHANOM DONGREK-XEPIAN CULTURAL ECOLOGY

               DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY (REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES)     SURINDRA RAJABHAT UNIVERSITY,
               ACADEMIC YEAR 2010

               THESIS ADVISOR : PROFESSOR DR. SUIJARIT PIANCHOP, ASSOCIATE    PROFESSOR DR. ACHARA PHANURAT
               AND DR.KANNIKAR JINAKUL 550  P.

                  The research on Local Wisdom of Domestic Elephants in Phanom Dongrek – Xepian Cultural Ecology had the purposes : 1)to study local wisdom of domestic elephants in Phanom Dongrek of Thai and Xepian of Lao PDR, 2) to analyze factors relating to local wisdom of domestic elephants in Phanom Dongrek of Thailand and 3) to suggest on the policy in conservation of local wisdom of domestic elephants in Phanom Dongrek, Thailand, conducting through the integrated qualitative and the quantitative method, based on the ethnographic research technique, the focus group, as well as the exploratory factor analysis and the stepwise regression analysis


                   The research results on local wisdom of domestic elephants in Phanom Dongrek Xepian cultural ecology included 1) The elephant round-up wisdom, it was done through the elephant “Phone” method. The elephant round-up track lined along Phanom Dongrek, Attapue, and Ratanakhiri ranges. In preparation for the elephant round- up the elephant experts and helpers would go with their great teachers (Ti Yai) respected by them, set the time and date, prepare devices and food stuffs, pay respect to the home spirits at home to say good-bye (Pa Kam) and the gathering place outside, perform the food- offering rite, and perform the ordain ( Pa- Chi) of the elephant expert to increase the rank of the elephant expert. The families of those going out for the elephant round- up had to strictly observed these acts. The movement of elephant caravan procession to the round- up location (Gang Rom) lasted for 10-20 days. They stopped there to open up the jungle and surveythe wild elephant inhabitants. When finding the wild elephant herd, they would plan for the round- up. After the round- up was successful, they would perform the rite for tamely the wild elephant (Pa Sa). When the food stuffs were used up, or the round- up could be done according to time set, they would do the rites to say good-bye (Pa Kam) to the jungle. When arriving at home, they would give offerings to the home spirits, and divide up the elephants among themselves. The language used for going out to do the elephant round- up was of the “Pa Kam” spirits. They believed that the “Pa Kam” spirit house was the sacred object in which the forefather spirits and jungle gods resided. The role of the elephant experts in the past up to the present had become the persons with wisdom in the communities. 2) The wisdom in training and raising the domestic elephants, the wild elephants getting catch were tamed to become the domestic ones blessing rites were performed for them. The elephants, their legs were tied up with rope in order to be under control and get trained by touching and giving the order combined with controlling devices. To raise the elephants, they were naturally released and chained, to let them naturally feed themselves and provide feeds for them, find places for them to leave on their own in nature. Raising the domestic elephants was the duty of all family members to help in raising and taking care of them as members in the families. The new- generation mahouts learned how to train and raised the domestic elephants from the elephant expert families, those with wisdom, technicians, and self- learning, and 3) Ecology of domestic elephant locations, The communities raising the elephants had adapted how to raise them from the past by mainly using the elephants for tourism purposes and participation in various ritual activities, as well as earning living. The ecology of domestic elephant inhabitants diminished their abundance. The ecological conditions for the elephants were destroyed, and the natural forests were trespassed. In order to have the elephants mutually live in ecology with human- beings there were many means to enhance conservation of forest areas, wetland areas, water swamps, building up resources of elephant feeds, provision of water resources, and taking care of elephant health. In addition, there were practices on conservation of domestic elephant wisdom by the owners, the elephant experts, mahouts, community leaders, wisdom leaders, academics, as well as support and assistance from both government and private sectors.

 

                   In addition, from the quantitative study on cultural ecology of Phanom Dongrek, Thailand, it was also found that there were five factors related to the domestic elephant wisdom, namely elephant raising methods, wild elephant round- up, domestic elephant ecology, elephant raising promotion, and building new elephant inhabitants, the results of this study led to four policy suggestions on domestic elephant wisdom conservation, namely promotion and support   of providing knowledge in raising the domestic elephants, promotion of building new elephant inhabitants, promotion on taking care of domestic elephant ecology, and promotion of elephant raising through support and participation of communities and various organizations. These policy measures would be useful for promotion and conservation of domestic elephants in Phanom Dongrek cultural ecology, Thailand, as well as being useful for further planning on promotion of domestic elephant conservation in other cultural ecological settings.

 


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