Elephant tourism is big business in Asia, however what most tourists don’t understand is the cruel treatment the animals go through to perform the tricks they see and take them rides. They are taken away from the wild and forced to endure a lot of pain so that they listen to their handlers. Most tourists might think that these elephants are domesticated like dogs or horses, but the actual truth is far from it.
The industry however is moving towards more ethical means with centres such as ethical elephant phuket but it will take time for the whole region to put animal welfare at the forefront. The more tourists demand for rides and elephant tricks the more these animals will have to endure pain, so the key is to stop the demand so that there will be better ways to do elephant tourism. Let’s look at some reasons as to why you should never consider riding these giants.
- Most often the animals are taken from the wild as babies and their mothers killed. They are also immediately put for training which includes painful practices so that the animal learns to do what the handler says.
- The stress they face creates emotional and physical damage that lasts a lifetime. You will often notice these symptoms such as head bobbing and excessive swaying. Some centres would tell tourists that the elephants are dancing but really they are stressed and are not in a good condition.
- These animals live in large groups naturally, but in captivity they are isolated mostly with little interaction with each other and made to work in the hot sun without sufficient breaks. So if you do plan to visit a place to see them, make sure that it has animal welfare at heart. phuket elephant tour has these animals roaming free with no chains and they are not made to give rides as well which is an encouraging fact.
- The animals are not taken care of properly when they are not working as well. Most times they are in small sheds or tied with chains which hurt or would their legs. Naturally elephants are made to walk long distances, however being tied in one spot for long periods of time really hurt their wellbeing.
- Adequate food and medical care is also lacking in some places, and you will often find wounds and scars on their legs and behind the ears.
- Some places try to trick tourists by naming their centres as orphanages, or rescue centres, but don’t just get duped by the name, do your own research before you visit and patronize such places.
As said above the abuse will only end when the demand stops, so in order for the industry to move to more ethical means there has to be more pressure and support from the international community.