The Karen people have always lived naturally in the forest, and, for many generations have relied on elephants to help them.
Because elephants are ideal for carrying heavy loads they are essential for transportation through rural areas, and, more recently, for carrying tourists. The Karen people simply would not survive without them. The Karen people have always used elephants to help carry them through dense parts of the jungle which would be difficult on foot, such as down steep hills to fetch water from the creek, or carrying heavy bags of rice from the fields to the barn. What is little effort for an elephant would be a huge amount of labour
for humans. Because they are so important to the Karen people, elephants are their friends, and are treated with respect.
To manage an elephant and gain its trust requires knowledge, love and understanding. This is why the Karen people look after their elephants so well, and only certain members of the Karen family are trained enough to do this. Some of them call elephant-care a kind of black magic, and this black magic is passed down through families.
Part of the skill of caring for elephants is to ensure the elephant is listened to. Karen legend has it that if a female elephant is ignored, it is likely that her eggs will become infected, and therefore she will not be able to continue the elephant family. This serious consequence acts as a grave warning to those handling elephants. A sense of duty, honor and patience are as important to the elephant as they are to the Karen people as a whole.