Why We Banned Elephants Riding?
Third Rock Adventures, have put an end to Elephant ride trips. We want to encourage travelers from around the world to never indulge in any activities that directly or indirectly cause animal exploitation.
We all have seen an elephant with howdah (a wooden saddle on the back) and 4-5 people riding on it across the jungle or national park. And we can pretty much guess they are enjoying their time, doing an exciting activity, which people call elephant safari. The other activities performed by the elephant under duress include painting a picture, standing on one leg, and doing some tricky performances in the circuses. That's what we all see. From the outside, it definitely looks exotic experience. But there's another side to it and let's look from a different perspective.
The elephants are ready anytime for the ride through rivers and the jungle. But how come such a giant mammal, the size of over 9 feet weighing 4000kg, falls for the order of a mere human being? Well, to answer that, we need to understand the gruesome process called Phajaan. The clear definition of Phajaan is the barbaric process of "breaking elephants' spirit." The baby elephants, less than a year old, are taken away from their mother, held captive, tethered to chains and rope, and beaten severely until they become submissive. You can also say it is the exploitation of elephants for the sole purpose of entertainment in the tourism industry. The elephants are confined in a cage, shackled, starved, and subject to countless physical abuse.
The mahout's only intention is to make the elephant fear him and comply with his command. The elephant is whipped, beaten, and devoid of proper nutrition and a natural lifestyle. In other words, the elephant is completely under the control of the mahouts. Every day, the elephants have to go through terrible conditions without food and enough sleep for days and get struck with sharp bull-hooks. To see this process would be a heart-wrenching experience. Worst of all, some elephants choose to die over cruel training. The lack of individual care, natural habitats, and companionship of a herd makes it hard for the elephants to survive, let alone get trained under pressure.
More than 100 companies have agreed to no longer offer elephant rides and shows in any of their markets. And it's great that companies in such numbers are committed to stopping selling and promoting elephant rides and shows.
Thousands of elephants have been captured and tortured for years for animal tourism. And every year, hundreds of elephants die from human cruelty. In 2013, two elephants were found dead in Vietnam. It is reported that the elephants in Vietnam have to work all day. Most elephants die from stress and exhaustion. And sometimes we also get to hear the news of the death of mahouts, being killed by their own elephants. In 2016, there was terrific news about an elephant named Sambo that died at Angkor, drawing worldwide attention. It was claimed that she died due to heat stroke and exhaustion from ferrying so many human beings around. This all comes to a point: we must stop animal cruelty and ban elephant rides
So the question for you now is will you ride elephants on holidays? Is it worth it? I heard you. It's a big no. And we are grateful to you for that. The next time you see an elephant used for human gratification, make sure to check its ears, forehead, and limbs. Chances are you will spot deep lacerations and scars caused by physical abuse during phajaan. Don't book with a travel agency that promotes and offers trips praising the experience of Elephant rides and safari.
Is riding an elephant ethical in Nepal?
Given the fact that elephants are kept in captivity and have to undergo abusive training, it is definitely not ethical. They are provided little to no veterinary care and forced to work to death. Although elephant riding is an incredible experience while visiting Chitwan, there are alternatives. You can always opt for a jungle walk or jeep safari. There are ways to interact with elephants ethically. You can witness elephants swimming and roaming in the thick of the jungles.
Despite this, there are still travel companies turning a blind eye to animal cruelties like the elephant ride. However, looking on the bright side, there are companies who are relentlessly working to end the cruel abuse of elephant in tourism industry.
Why are people still riding Elephants in Nepal?
In 2018, there was news about a Ban on Elephant Safaris in Nepal. But the Jungle safari operators in Chitwan National Park and Nawalparasi resisted it, saying that they would go out of business if the government gave in to demands from animal rights activists to ban elephant-back tours. Elephant tourism in Nepal generates huge revenues and thousands of people are dependent on it. The sad news is there will be the continuance of Elephant rides to cater to the tourists in Nepal.
There are still many people who would ride, and the very reason for this is a lack of awareness. The local travelers as well as tourist demands to ride elephant only to enjoy and for exotic selfies. If we present them with the video of elephants being beaten with bullhooks repeatedly, they would probably never think of it. There are countless reasons not to ride an elephant, the phajaan process being the number 1. Elephants are beaten severely until they comply with the order of the mahout. Besides, the number of wild elephants is dwindling in the world.
How are travel companies working on it?
As of now, over 200 travel companies in the world, including Third Rock Adventures, have put an end to Elephant ride trips. We want to encourage travelers from around the world to never indulge in any activities that directly or indirectly cause animal exploitation. Or you can choose ethical elephant tours to promote ethical and animal-friendly tourism. However, the best idea is to ignore any itinerary offering elephant safari and rides.
In the context of Nepal and other countries where we operate travel itineraries, we have already started to phase out elephant rides and safari. We have set policies against any activities that involve the exploitation of wild or domestic animals, and we no longer offer elephant rides on any trips in Nepal. This comes under our animal welfare policies in the countries we operate trips. We also like to state that we will be working in conjunction with non-profit organizations and INGOs to promote animal welfare and ethical tourism in Nepal and the world.