Don’t Ride Elephants on Vacation!

We have all seen photos of people riding elephants in Thailand while on vacation and wanted to check that off our bucket lists. I was just like you until I heard about the appalling torture these poor animals go through, just to get them ready to be ridden.   These majestic creatures are beaten and abused just so tourists can ride them.  AN elephant doesn’t have the rights a human does, so we have to speak up for them.

Don’t feel bad for wanting to ride an elephant, shoot; it’s been a dream of mine for years. I had no clue as to the widespread abuse these poor creatures endured, instead, the incredible photos and videos captivated me. Just picture yourself sitting upon these gargantuan beasts as they trudge through picturesque jungles and wade through uncultivated rivers. Thailand is a land of mystery and undiscovered beauty, so why not ride an elephant to top off the trip? You shouldn’t because it’s only proliferating these animals abuse and neglect.

The elephant is notorious for never forgetting, so why would you want to be apart of a smart animals’ demise.

The Asian elephant is an endangered species as there are less than 2,000 living in the wild in the jungles of Thailand. Many are being displaced due to rampant deforestation and illegal poaching. The elephant tourism industry is responsible for the illegal capture and trade of these endangered animals. These wild elephants, many are captured as babies must then be trained for foreign tourist to ride them. This training is considered torture as violent techniques are employed.

 

Baby elephants are tortured so they will allow people to ride them, which is quite unnatural to them. The process of taming these baby elephants is called “Phajaan” or “the crush.” This process involves stealing the babies away from their mothers and licked in very small cages, where they are beaten into submission using clubs and sticks with sharp hooks on the ends. These barbaric techniques aren’t subject to any regulations, as the Thai government simply looks the other way.

These poor baby elephants are continuously tortured until their spirits are broken and sometimes they die in the process.

An elephant’s spine isn’t strong enough to properly support the weight of a human. Years of being ridden create extreme pain in these animals and often when they stop performing, they are put down. Many organizations try to save these ill-fated creatures before they are killed.

Most travelers have no idea of the rampant torment involved in elephant tourism. An excellent organization is trying to change that, the Elephant Nature Park. Located in the jungles of Northern Thailand, the ENP is involved in the protection and care of mistreated elephants as well as educating tourists.   Over 30 elephants are being cared for on the 250-acre park. Tourists are brought in to learn and care for these regal animals in the proper ways. Here, you can walk the animals; feed them and even help them bathe in a river.

The park offers visitors the chance to make a difference in an elephant’s life and stay connected long after their trip receiving progress reports and updates. Also, the park is registered as a non-profit foundation; so all proceeds go to help the elephants.

Elephant training has been going on in Thailand for hundreds of years, but now their sole purpose is tourism. Before they were used in the timber industry and even in the Thai military.

I won’t think poorly of you if you have ridden an elephant in the past. However, if you chose to ride them knowing what torture then endure, I’ll know how you feel. Sure, the experience would be memorable, but the poor elephants won’t soon forget either. Can you handle being part of hurting these beautiful creatures… I know I can’t.

If you’d like to donate to the Elephant Nature Park (ENP), here is a link. Travel with your heart and let’s stop the torture of these magnificent animals for good.

 

 Photos courtesy of TheGuardian, YouTube, elephant-world, speak up for the voiceless, Kaleenaskaleidiscope 

Read the full article over at the ExpertVagabond