To ride or not to ride? Elephant Tourism in Thailand.
“Most people who participate in elephant tourism in Thailand are completely unaware of how they are treated.” expertvagabond.com
Will you ride an elephant on your vacation?
I’m writing this post, not to tell you why you shouldn’t ride an elephant, but to encourage you to read more about elephant tourism before you make the choice ‘to ride or not to ride’. I’m not an expert, in fact I’m far from it. I’m just someone who made the mistake of riding an elephant before doing the research.
I was unaware. I must admit I hadn’t really thought about it. I should have known better, I’m not a stupid person. How could I be so stupid? But instead of kicking myself over and over I set to educating myself about the elephant tourism so I can, in the future, make better choices.
The information I have found on the internet is very disturbing. It seems that the elephants, who are naturally adverse to carrying a human on their back, are tortured into submission by a technique called the Phajaan or crush. As young elephants they are taken from their mothers and repeatedly abused with bullhooks and clubs.
I’m not going to regurgitate the information I found on the internet, instead I have included the links below. Do click on the links, do have a read, and then you can make an informed decision about wether you want to participate in elephant tourism.
“Any outfit that offers (elephant) riding, circuses or paintings means they have undergone horrific abuse in order to get them to where they are.” worldnomads.com
I wish I had looked into riding the elephants a bit more before I did it, as I would have chosen not to. There are other options giving people an opportunity to interact with elephants. The next time I want to interact with an elephant, while in Thailand or anywhere for that matter, I will go to an elephant sanctuary instead.
I have ridden an elephant, and did love the experience. BUT ultimately it was getting close to, talking to and touching the elephant that made the experience special. If that can be done at a sanctuary then I’m all for it. I don’t judge, but I would encourage people to look into some alternative way to interact with the elephants rather than ride them. Having said that, before I visit an elephant sanctuary, I would like to do more research on them to know that I am not inadvertently still encouraging the capture and suffering of elephants. Suffice to say I hope it is a better option than riding the elephants.
There is a lot of information on the internet about elephant tourism and its impact on the elephants. If you are going to Thailand please read more about the elephants at the links below. They include information about sanctuaries and volunteer positions… now wouldn’t that be an experience?!
Read more before you decide to ride an elephant!
Expert Vagabond – Elephants in Thailand
World Nomads – Why Elephant Riding Should be Removed From Your Bucketlist
National Geographic – Visitors Can’t Tell If a Tourist Attraction Is Bad for Animals
Lonely Planet – How to Interact Ethically with Elephants in Thailand
Luxe Adventure Traveler – To Ride or Not Ride an Elephant in Thailand?
Adore Animals – The Ethical Elephant Experience
Please help spread the word of the terrible abuse these majestic animals suffer!
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