Why ele­phant rides are a no-no

The Sun (Malaysia) - - GOOD VIBES -

AT THE re­cent World Ele­phant Day on Aug 12, ele­phant ex­pert Ge­off Manch­ester of In­trepid Travel was asked to ex­plain the ethics of rid­ing th­ese mag­nif­i­cent crea­tures.

Travel is an op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence dif­fer­ent cul­tures, meet new peo­ple, taste weird and won­der­ful foods and – for many – get close to wildlife you may have only seen in books or David At­ten­bor­ough doc­u­men­taries.

Who doesn’t love to see ele­phants dur­ing their trav­els? Their majesty, their walk, their amaz­ing trunks, their in­tel­li­gence … and the de­light­ful an­tics of baby ele­phants.

In re­cent years, a whole in­dus­try has de­vel­oped around travel com­pa­nies of­fer­ing hol­i­day­mak­ers an ele­phant “ex­pe­ri­ence”. Sadly, many tourists are un­aware of the cru­elty go­ing on be­hind the scenes.

Peo­ple of­ten think that an ele­phant in cap­tiv­ity is do­mes­ti­cated, and so some­how it’s all right to have it un­der hu­man com­mand. But the re­al­ity is that they never have been do­mes­ti­cated like dogs or horses.

Even if born in cap­tiv­ity, they are still wild an­i­mals, and need to be “bro­ken” to take tourists on rides or per­form in shows. This process is ex­cep­tion­ally cruel and painful.

So what hap­pens in cap­tiv­ity? Ele­phants will of­ten be chained so they have very lim­ited move­ment, con­trolled with sticks or sharp hooks and forced to per­form un­nat­u­ral and stress­ful ac­tiv­i­ties.

In th­ese con­di­tions, ele­phants of­ten de­velop health and be­havioural prob­lems.

They can be­come prone to sud­den out­bursts of ag­gres­sion to­wards their han­dlers, lead­ing to in­juries and fa­tal­i­ties.

The tragic story of a Bri­tish tourist who was killed by an ele­phant in Thai­land in Fe­bru­ary was a stark re­minder of this.

When tourists go on a ride or take a selfie with an ele­phant, they of­ten don’t re­alise that the an­i­mal is suf­fer­ing.

That’s why in 2014, In­trepid Travel abol­ished ele­phant rides from its trips. The re­sponse has been over­whelm­ingly pos­i­tive.

Trav­ellers ap­pre­ci­ate be­ing bet­ter in­formed and know­ing that their travel choice is not caus­ing harm to th­ese ex­tra­or­di­nary an­i­mals. Many other tour op­er­a­tors have fol­lowed suit. – The In­de­pen­dent

Ele­phants are nat­u­rally wild an­i­mals and need to be ‘bro­ken’ so that tourists can take a ride on them.

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