Kui people are an ethnic group in Surin, north-eastern Thailand. For many centuries, members of a Kui family have always included both humans and elephants. A Kui house features the space for humans, and the space for elephants—right under the same roof. Once fertile, the forest of Surin was extensively destroyed for commercial purposes in the last half-century. The Kui and their elephants, who had relied solely on the forest, suffered extreme droughts, shortages of food and medicinal plants the forest once provided. The two wandered the streets of tourist towns begging for food. Some worked in elephant camps, many with unsuitable living conditions and routine. Elephant World is a governmental project to bring the Kui and their elephants back to their homeland and to ensure the suitable living conditions for the elephants. The project includes the Kui village, an elephant hospital, the pre-existing temple and graveyard for both humans and elephants, and a museum telling stories of the community’s age-old culture.
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