Riding Elephants in Africa, Sri Lanka and India not only looks glamorous but it has also became a worldwide trend. Unfortunately, not many tourists know about the connection between the cool selfies from an elephant’s back and the lifetime of torture the poor animals are exposed to.
The elephants are chained, and forced to live in small cages, too often separated from fellow elephants with whom they would naturally form bonds in the wild. Part of the elephant training process involves awful captive conditions for decades, isolation, starvation and lack of water. The elephants are restrained with ropes and chains, allowing its owner to control their movements while riding on their necks (would us humans enjoy having someone sitting on our necks?). Control is often established not through a friendly bond, but through fear and pain. The elephants are pointed with metal bullhooks, and beaten with wooden battens and whips. This is why elephants end up suffering from traumatic stress disorder, even the ones who are saved from the cruel conditions.
Elephant tourism is a flourishing business, because people would pay great amounts of money to get do complete one of the most fashionable tourist experiences of today. This is why the demand in elephants grew, and young elephants can be sold for $60,000. What is even worse is that the industry might spread even more. In Africa, the first commercial venues which offered elephant rides opened in the late 1990s in Zimbabwe and it started to spread across South Africa and certain Asian countries a few years later. And with how popular the industry is now, there are high chances that it will continue to spread. Think about the consequences which would follow!
If you want to discourage this awful business, avoid visiting venues which breed elephants for commercial purposes and venues which offer elephant rides. Also, try to discourage the ones around you to visit them. Visit genuine elephant sanctuaries instead and always do your research before going somewhere. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter to be notified when our blog post about the rules of wildlife watching is published.