Elephant rides have always been the main attraction of Asian tourism. However, this will soon come to a standstill, as over 100 tourism companies, including The Travel Corporation, Thomas Cook Northern Europe and Intrepid Travel Group have joined hands to end abuse of elephants.
World Animal Protection has been engaging with tour operators across the world to secure their commitment to not send their customers to venues where jumbo rides are the prime attraction.
Some travel companies, however, continue offering elephant rides and performances to tourists. “We call upon these businesses to follow the great example of those who have made commitments and offer only elephant-friendly excursion, in which customers can experience the elephant in a natural environment without having to perform or interact with people,” said World Animal Protection on its website.
The organization pointed out that in order to make elephants submit to rides and other human interactions, they are taken from their mothers soon after they are born and forced through a horrific training process known as ‘the crush’. This involves physical restraints, inflicting severe pain and withholding food and water.
The cruelty does not end after the crush. When not performing or used for rides, most elephants are kept on chains, unable to socially interact with one another. This is hugely damaging to their physical and psychological wellbeing.
“We want to see this cruelty stop – but we also need to think about what happens to the elephants already captive at these places, and what the future might hold for them. That’s why we are working hard to find tour operators who are prepared to go the extra mile and invest in transforming existing elephant camps into humane, safe sanctuaries – places where the animals are free to live and behave as naturally as possible, if they can’t be released back into the wild,” the organization said.