Every year, tourists from all over the world take part in elephant rides in Southeast Asia. That’s why you should never take a ride on an elephant.
In some Asian countries – such as India, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam, it is very common to come across elephant-back tour offers, especially in more touristy locations. This kind of experience is also advertised on major travel sites, and social media abounds with photos of tourists who have taken part.
Hunted in the wild
But participating in these activities means encouraging animal cruelty and fomenting crimes against wildlife. These actions, in addition to other factors, are bringing the Asian elephant to the brink of extinction. Here are the facts:
Captive breeding of elephants is known to be very difficult and requires very high environmental standards. Suffice it to say that after 40 years it has not been possible to give birth to a single elephant in Vietnam.
So most of the elephants employed in the tourism sector are nothing more than specimens illegally caught in their natural habitat.
Elephants are very sociable animals and live in large herds in the wild. When they are hunted, young elephants are torn – violently – by their families and by their life companions, who in all probability will never see again.
To obey they must fear the man. Usually, submission occurs through a process called “Crush” (the break). The young elephants are savagely beaten by groups of torturers until their spirit is completely broken.
Elephants have an excellent memory and this barbaric abuse is usually enough to keep animals terrified of their executioners for the rest of their lives.
Exploited to the death
Once sold to the tourism sector, elephants must work hard to repay their owner for the sum paid and become a source of income. Elephants used for tours are usually available all day, every day.
Elephants remain tied until the first customers appear. Elephants are also forced to work 8 hours to meet the demand of tourists – transporting large groups of people under hot tropical heat.
The living conditions of animals used in tourism are poorly regulated, and working beyond the established limits is the norm. In recent years, Vietnamese media have reported several cases of fatigued, malnourished, exhausted and literally exploited elephants to the death.
Unable to express their natural behavior
In the first place there is always the gain, therefore the well-being of the elephants is considered a secondary aspect and it is inevitable that the animal does not suffer from it.
In nature, elephants are used to moving for many miles in search of their favorite food. They constantly interact with their peers through physical contact or communicating in the distance using very low-frequency sounds.
Elephants love to play and dive in the water before turning to the usual dust baths to protect themselves from insect attacks.
But all this is not possible in the tourist facilities where they are held.
When they are not busy transporting paying visitors, elephants are tied with very short chains around their legs. They cannot move, feed, wash or interact with other specimens. The living conditions of these animals are far from the minimum standards necessary to meet their most basic needs.
The tourists’ money encourages the cycle of abuse
Unfortunately, global tourism is fuelling the demand for elephant rides. As long as the tourists are willing to pay to ride or interact with the elephants – the pachyderms will continue to be poached in their habitat. They will continue to be traded, forced to survive a life of misery and slavery and beaten to death to break their spirit.
Asian elephants are in danger
The Asian elephant is in a rather critical situation. The species is cataloged at risk by the IUCN and their number continues to decrease.
The greatest threats to the wild survival of this species are represented by hunting for ivory, and the capture of animals to feed the entertainment and tourism industry.
The truth is undeniably clear: by taking part in elephant back rides, tourists become accomplices in animal abuse and push the majestic Asian elephant to the brink of extinction.