New Zealand travellers are being told to steer clear of elephant riding due to the severe abuse the animals face.
Intrepid Travel co-founder Geoff Manchester released shocking footage on Sunday – which happens to be World Elephant Day – to show tourists the dark side of elephant riding in Thailand.
“A female elephant will be shot and then its baby is captured,” Mr Manchester says. “That baby is then tortured until it’s willing to submit to humans and it’s then trained to do elephant riding.”
He was the person who first put elephant riding on Intrepid’s regular itinerary – but in 2014, his company realised its mistake and banned the rides.
“The evidence is so overwhelming that it had a big impact on all of us who’d taken elephant riding.”
He says research has found that out of 114 different locations in Thailand which use animals in tourism, only six of them treated them in an acceptable way.
“Elephants go through an extreme amount of torture, and they’re treated really poorly – and it’s an inhumane way of treating the elephants,” Mr Manchester says.
Elephant Nature Park is a sanctuary for elephants in northern Thailand, which takes in animals that have been forced to work for humans for up to six or seven decades.
“Many of them come very skinny and a lot of bones and infection around the body,” says founder Lek Chailert.
“More than 80 percent arrive with a huge mental problem – some of them stand still like a zombie, their eyes empty.”
Mr Manchester hopes that all elephant riding will finally come to an end within the next 10 to 20 years.
Times comment:- All tourists should take heed of this advice. They should also avoid paying to feed elephants that are made to tour bars. The food is cheap crap and often results in diabetes for the elephant. The people in charge of the elephants do not own them, merely rent them and they show little concern for the elephants’ welfare.