Tourists Urged Not To Ride Elephants In Thailand
It may make for a particularly exotic snap on Instagram, but tourists have been explicitly asked by Intrepid Travel co-founder Geoff Manchester to stop riding elephants in Thailand as he explains that many of the animals are being mistreated and tortured.
Manchester showed horrific abuses against the elephants at some of the farms, and stated the only way to help these animals is to not go to these places at all.
He explained that in many cases: "A female elephant will be shot, and then its baby is captured. That baby is then tortured until it's willing to submit to humans, and is then trained to do elephant riding."
Manchester actually used to send people on such trips until 2014, when he delved deeper into the practices of many companies.
He stated: "The evidence is so overwhelming that it had a big impact on all of us who'd taken elephant riding," arguing that, from his research, only six out of 114 locations treated the animals properly.
By 2016, around 160 companies stopped offering trips to such a site, and TripAdvisor has also stopped advertising such places entirely.
Dr Jan Schmidt-Burbach, who is a Global Wildlife and veterinary adviser at WAP, told the BBC: "The cruel trend of elephants used for rides and shows is growing - we want tourists to know that many of these elephants are taken from their mothers as babies, forced to endure harsh training and suffer poor living conditions throughout their life."
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PETA describes the mistreatment of elephants in Thailand's tourism industry as "...a world of merciless beatings, broken spirits, and lifelong deprivation. Once revered, elephants in Thailand today are treated like slaves."
The article goes into vivid detail around the ordeals these animals have to go through but that the industry tries hard to cover up.
Around nine percent of the world's population of elephants reside at these places in Thailand, with PETA claiming that most are illegally taken from the wild in Myanmar, again explaining that mothers may well be shot during this time.
However, PETA also makes it clear that this is not an issue purely in Thailand, but also across a lot of Southeast Asia, namely in Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar. The advice is similar - never visit these places and only go to accredited sanctuaries, such as Boon's Lott's Elephant Sanctuary. Instead of riding one, you can see first-hand the brilliant rescue efforts and rehabilitation the sanctuary dedicates itself to.
Charlie Stone, co-founder of UK site Backpacker Bible, a company dedicated to responsible travelling, told LADbible: "Put simply there is no way to ride an elephant without contributing to cruelty in some way. Young elephants are subjected to a brutal process called the Phajaan or 'crush' before they can be trained for tourism purposes.
"This will continue to happen while the demand for elephant rides still exists.
"Every elephant used in trekking or for entertainment purposes has suffered this treatment."
The sad fact is that tourism has now turned elephants into a lucrative business - a 'crushed' baby elephant can be worth thousands of pounds.
Featured Image Credit: PA