Once elephants roamed throughout Asia in vast herds, at the turn of the 20th century there were three hundred thousand in Thailand alone. But today just seeing an elephant in the wild is a rare and fleeting experience. Asia’s proud symbol of strength and power is disappearing, their numbers are in free fall, their habitat is being literally eaten away and their traditional forest pathways now lead them into danger.
But there is a new force of hope approaching. A Thai crusader who wants to turn around the fortunes of the Asian elephant and at the same time change the way people view the relationship between elephants and man.
This is the story of Sompast. Like his forefathers he is a mahout. Today he’s preparing for battle. Using an ancient knowledge, he’s set his sights on the enormous task of restoring the balance between man and elephant – to build a sustainable future for both.
Sompast believes the fate of the Asian elephant depends entirely upon saving his ancient profession. Like the Asian elephant, the role of the Mahout, their life long partner, is disappearing. His greatest fear is one day he could be the last Mahout.
The Last Mahout is a unique portal into the plight of the Asian Elephants; the film explores the tragic collisions of man and beast and speaks plainly about the steps necessary to save this remarkable animal. Elephants are vulnerable to all manner of threats and need large areas of forest in the wild. Habitat loss and fragmentation threatens them throughout their range. As habitat becomes fragmented elephants come into increasing, often fatal conflict with humans and agriculture.
“The Last Mahout”, is an incredible account of Asian Elephants, delving into their past as war machines and beasts of burden, brought to life with exclusive footage of elephants being trained by Sompast for “Oliver Stone’s – Alexander the Great”. We witness domesticated elephants playing an astounding humanitarian role during the Tsunami disaster on the coast of Thailand and witness their tender retrieval of human bodies. We travel deep into the Thai countryside to explore the reverence and spiritual connection Thai people have for the elephant – as the remains of an honored elephant is exhumed and transferred to a Monastery.
Sompast is at the forefront of Elephant conservation with a distinctly different approach. He knows that to save the Asian elephant his people have to begin again. They to reconsider what role this incredible animal can play in our future. In the disappearing wild they will constantly be threatened and need our protection.
With each New Year Sompast will carry on his quest to teach Thai’s the importance of the elephant in their society. He knows, as one of THE LAST MAHOUTS, that he has a big responsibility – to redefine and continue a remarkable relationship that is as old as their civilization.